With the NBA world still circling around the fact that LeBron got his first ring and the Lakers got marque talent this off-season, the conversation of the Thunder winning the title next year has slimmed down. Whenever I make the argument that Oklahoma City will win it all next year, people give me the usual response of ,” No way. The Lakers and the Heat in the finals.” There is only one word I can use to prove my point: Experience.
Over the past few years, you could see the gradual incline of the Thunder expectations, and accomplishments:
2010: First time in the playoffs, lose in 6 games to the Lakers, who went on to win it all.
2011: Lose in the Western Conference Finals to the Mavs, who went on to beat the Heat in the Finals.
2012: Win the Western Conference; lose to the Heat in the NBA Finals.
Moreover, you could even see individual progression in each and every player. In 2010, Durant and Westbrook won gold in Turkey, and more importantly brought that experience to next year’s NBA season. Here is a look at the jump in Westbrook’s numbers the year after he won gold in 2010, as he jumped from 16 points per
game to 21 PPG:
For Durant, it was far more than numbers as he led the league in scoring in 2011 and led his team to the Western Conference Finals for thefirst time. KD became a leader for this Oklahoma City team, and really made himself the face of the franchise.
This year, the Thunder “Big three” of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden put on the red, white, and blue and took home gold in London. Hopefully, all three of their numbers will increase and the big three will use that experience to win the Finals thisyear. Not to mention the fact that Serge Ibaka played for Spain, which adds to the experience this young Thunder team got this off-season.
I guess the conclusion if this is that the Thunder will be for sure ready to prove the doubters wrong, make the next step, and finally get that ring. After all, that is the beauty of being the underdog.