Now that we've won 12 straight, where does that put us in the greater scheme of our expected progress map?
We start off as the lowest of lows. Everyone beats the crap out of us easily. We'd have to have a perfect game and they'd have to be totally off for us to win. See Timberwolves. 0-19 win season.
The second level would still see us getting the crap kicked out of us on a regular basis, but the margin of our losses would shrink due to better execution on the offense and better team defense. Stats like rebounding, assists, and turnovers will start improving. 20-29 win season.
The third level would see us winning against decent teams and an occasional win against an elite team that looked past us. At this point the rudiments of an identity should be established and roles should begin to be defined. Typical stats would start to be average across the league. 30-39 win season.
The fourth level has a core group of players capable of playing as good (or better) than the opponents starting unit. Clearly established leadership and defined roles as well as a strong supporting cast, capable of playing with concentrated efficiency would have developed. The overall winning percentage should be above .490 and a strong home victory margin should be apparent (.700 or better). 40-49 win season.
Level five is the "contender" level. At this point the offense and defensive schemes should be second nature to all rotation players. Each player should be able to enter a game situation and know exactly what they and their teammates will do. Offensive and defensive efficiency stats should show within the top 10-15 in the league. The team should have, or be in competition for, the division lead. In addition to a strong home presence (.750), road games should be won at .500 rate or better. 50-58 win season.
Level six is the "elite" level. This is the level where the team is favored to win all their games unless competing against another elite team on the road. The efficiency of the game plan is so strong that even when the opposition is prepared for it, they can't stop it from happening. Home winning percentage should be at .820 or better. Road winning percentage should be at .630 or better. 59+ win season.
I see us as currently evolving from level 3 to level 4. I wasn't expecting anything more than level three for the season, and adding Oden next season might jump us to level 5, depending on his development. With the entire offseason to prepare without the media circus of the draft and team workouts, I envision him coming in and dominating early. By the 09-10' season, we should know what we have in Oden and Rudy and be ready to make our push for level six. Assuming health issues are kept to a minimum, that gets us a solid 10-year elite-level window. Dang, it's starting to really sink in for me now: A 10-year championship window...10-YEARS.
Where do you see us now and in the near future?
I know Dave did something similar to this list before, but I couldn't find it. If anyone has that, please add the link to the comments.
OT Misc. : Does anyone else find it strange that Hollinger's Playoff Odds gives the Celtics and the Pistons a combined 88.2% chance of being champions (Toronto 0.7%, Orlando 0.3%)? The Western Conference only has a 10.8% chance of producing the champion? I expect that changes when the Celtics learn what it's like playing in the West. KG and Allen already know.