Last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder had a terrible record of 3-29 at one point. Did you think a playoff appearance would happen anytime soon? No, we didn’t either.
But somehow, under the tutelage of coach Scott Brooks, they turned things around this season, winning 27 more games than last season and earning a spot in the playoffs, despite struggling with the worst start in the NBA.
For this, Brooks has been named NBA Coach of the Year.
According to ESPN, he finished 480 points in votes ahead of Milwaukee’s Scott Skiles and Portland’s Nate McMillan (9, 107), both of who led their teams to the playoffs as well.
Brooks took over as coach in late 2008, and slowly began to turn things around. He moved the team’s star Kevin Durant to the small forward position and he excelled. He also brought in a few players to handle certain team needs. Everybody agrees, he helped the team improve.
“We were improved once he took over as the coach,” Durant said of Brooks. “We still lost some games that were tough, but we were learning and we were getting better each day in practice.”
Still, already in the first round of the 2010 Playoffs, they have a mountain to climb, as they take on the defending champs, the Los Angeles Lakers.
They are already two games behind in the series, but Brooks says they will keep fighting.
“This is the first-time playoff experience for a lot of us, including myself, and you’re playing against one of the best coaches of all sports, one of the best players ever and a team that has 1,000 [games of] playoff experience to ours,” Brooks told ESPN.com. “But you learn from playing against the best players and the best teams, and we’re going to keep fighting and figuring out ways to beat them.”
The Thunder will be at home for Game 3 against the Lakers on Thursday night (April 22).