The Oklahoma City Thunder have gotten noticeably better each and every year since adding superstar Kevin Durant to the roster back in 2007 (yes, they were known as the Seattle Supersonics back then). Each individual player (literally) grown up and improved, and the Thunder have taken strides. The team finally made the playoffs in 2010, then moving on to the Western Conference Finals in 2011, and capping it off last season in losing to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals.
If the trend continues, the Thunder should be hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy this June, right?
Despite sitting comfortably in second place in the Western Conference, there has been a stir that the team we’re looking at the day before the trade deadline isn’t the product we’ll see making their usual playoff run. Rumors are flying that the Thunder are interested in acquiring Marcin Gortat from the Phoenix Suns, which to me doesn’t make any sense as they’ve clearly been a different team since trading for Kendrick Perkins.
With that said, the Thunder have also looked like a different team – not necessarily for the better – since trading James Harden just before the start of the season. As well as Kevin Martin has played, the Thunder have really missed the beard, and more so have missed running their offense through him in the clutch, allowing Russell Westbrook to play more of a shooting guard role.
Make no mistake, both Durant and Westbrook – and Serge Ibaka – are having career seasons, and it’s showing as the Thunder have been better than just about everyone in the league this season. But, there seems to be something missing.
I’m not going to say the Thunder have a problem at the point guard spot, because hate him or love him, Westbrook is almost as efficient at that spot as just about anyone in the league. That said, they could use some depth.
So who can they acquire? Before I go any further with this, I don’t think they should be in the market for a point guard, because they have two very talented point guards stocked away on their bench.
Eric Maynor has shown glimpses of how special of a talent he can be, when he gets proper playing time. After tearing his ACL last January, Maynor hasn’t been able to get back into the Thunder rotation, which is a shame as he was really productive in backing up Westbrook during the 2010-11 season.
There have even been rumors that the Thunder could be looking to deal Maynor, as he’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season. In my opinion, if OKC is looking for a point guard, instead of looking to deal Maynor, they should allow him the opportunity to debut for his next job, while giving the Thunder the crucial point guard play they’re sorely lacking off of the bench.
And if not Maynor, how about his apparent replacement, second-year player Reggie Jackson? I know you can’t use the D-League as a means to judge professional-level talent, but averaging 28 points, 8.3 assists, and 7.3 rebounds over three incredible games showed the basketball world what Jackson was capable of.
Jackson has shown flashes of great athleticism, and has averaged nearly eight points and four assists per game this month, as he’s seen his first steady boost in minutes. Obviously, the biggest flaw with Jackson is his inexperience, but the only way to learn is by actually playing, and with a cushy lead in the Northwest division, Jackson should have ample time to get ready for the playoffs.
Considering the Thunder have two better-than-decent options at the point coming off of the bench, I don’t think acquiring another lead guard should be too high on their list of priorities. They actually have the best of both worlds in Maynor and Jackson, as Maynor can slow down the game and run more half court sets, and Jackson can keep his foot on the gas pedal and push, push, push.
Hopefully Sam Presti and Scott Brooks will read this before it’s too late.
For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth.