The Thunder’s second year in Oklahoma City proved an important one in the team’s history.
After finishing the inaugural OKC season with a 22-50 record, it was clear the Thunder had talent but weren’t quite there yet.
In the 2009-10 season, as general manager Sam Presti would so eloquently put it, they Thunder arrived.
After snagging James Harden third overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, Oklahoma City was locked and loaded to finally compete for one of eight spots in the Western Conference playoffs.
And that they did.
Led by Kevin Durant, who made his first All-Star appearance, and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder got off to a 12-12 start. Slowly but surely, they started to find winning ways.
They were 20-16, then 30-21, then 40-24.
Oklahoma City improved continuously throughout the season, a stretch of XX that would carry them even into future seasons.
The Thunder put together 50-32 record to finish 8th in the Western standings. They were tied with both the Trail Blazers in sixth and the Spurs in seventh despite not owning tiebreakers.
It was also the first full season with coach Scott Brooks at the helm.
In their first-ever OKC playoff appearance, the Thunder took on the Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol-led Lakes, who would go on to beat the Celtics 4-3 in the NBA Finals.
Oklahoma City and its young squad put up a valiant effort against Bryant and the Lakers, winning two games, the same amount that the Suns won in the Western Conference Finals. The Jazz, who advanced on to the second round, were swept by Los Angeles.
Altogether a positive season for a fresh franchise, the 2009-10 season was a pivotal moment in history for a future contender.