Andrew Gilman

The Pac 12 is relevant but the Thunder may not be soon

The Pac 12 is relevant but the Thunder may not be soon

Wrapping up a week with no Oklahoma football and plenty of Thunder basketball …

… Well, the Sooners didn’t gain any ground Saturday. And, yes, I realize they were on a bye, but there was some opportunity out there for Oklahoma, and don’t think for a minute Lincoln Riley and the Sooners weren’t aware of it.

Both Oregon and Utah won on Saturday and if either or both had lost, the Pac 12 could have eliminated itself from the playoff, helping OU. Sure, there’s plenty of maneuvering to happen, but an Oregon loss would have put the Ducks at 8-2 and a Utes loss would have put Utah at 8-2 meaning every team in the conference would have at least two losses. Instead, both Oregon and Utah won road games as slight favorites. The wins certainly don’t guarantee the Pac 12 a spot in the conversation, but the wins do keep the conference alive. At least for another week.

Oregon has games left against Arizona, at Arizona State and then vs. Oregon State. Utah is home against UCLA, at Arizona and then home against Colorado. If both win out, they will meet in the title game and the winner of that will be in the playoff conversation compared against what should be a one-loss Oklahoma team …

… It’s not like the Thunder are going to be a contender this season, and that’s a feeling most of us are still kinda getting used to around here. For the better part of 10 years, November has been a month where we get to see OKC start toward the playoffs.

And it’s not like the Thunder are headed toward 76er, Knicks or Cavs level tanking either.

What we’re looking at is a decent team, a try-hard team, with some quality veterans and some fun, young players. A group that seems to play the right way and isn’t painful to watch.

That kind of combination is just fine if you’re interested in becoming irrelevant, and the Thunder seem to be heading right in that direction.

Irrelevancy in the NBA is certainly something none of us have been part of in Oklahoma City. When you have Hall of Famers on the roster, that’s not an issue. When you sell them off, regardless of the promise of future riches, people have a hard time caring. Especially in football season.

It makes some sense for fans to tread lightly in November, but if the Thunder continue on this very static trend, what’s going to happen in February when the team is a dozen or so games under .500?

They won’t be a real lottery contender, they won’t be challenging for the playoffs, they won’t be on national TV and they will fade into NBA obscurity. Nothing worse than being irrelevant …

Andrew Gilman

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