The 2013 NBA Playoffs ended somewhat unceremoniously for the Oklahoma City Thunder as they fell in the second round to the Memphis Grizzlies. However, that’s not the whole story as they were playing without their star point guard, Russell Westbrook, in that series with the Grizzlies after a knee injury in the first round ended his season.
Now that we’re in the off-season, the Thunder have been quiet in regards to making moves in free agency. With Kevin Martin choosing not to re-sign with the Thunder, they obviously have a hole to fill on the wing. However, after offering a deal to Dorell Wright, who chose to sign elsewhere, the Thunder really haven’t been a team we’ve heard much from.
Many people have taken the Thunder’s lack of action this summer as a bad sign of things to come next season. By not having addressed the loss of Martin yet and by not making any other moves beyond drafting Steven Adams and Andre Roberson, a lot of people think the Thunder are going to drop off next year in comparison to last season.
In actuality, though, that’s absolutely crazy to think. The Thunder are obviously feeling the effects of no longer having James Harden and of Kendrick Perkins being generally inept when it comes to the game of basketball. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the combination of Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the improving Serge Ibaka make them a contender.
Durant and Westbrook are two players that don’t come around in the league often, much less come together on the same team. Westbrook’s relentless aggressiveness is almost unmatched and is deadly when combined with his skill and athleticism. Then you have Durant who, at just 24 years old, became the sixth player in NBA history to shoot over 50 percent from the field, over 40 percent from three, and over 90 percent from the foul line. Once again, he’s also just 24 years old, as is Westbrook.
As scary and impossible as it may seems, it’s entirely possible that Westbrook and Durant haven’t even hit their ceilings in the NBA. Given that, is it really smart to count the Thunder out? Then when you throw in the fact that Ibaka is developing into a defensive threat as well as forming an offensive game, this team is even more dangerous.
Yes, the Harden trade is affecting the Thunder and they obviously need to bring in someone on a cheap deal to replace Martin. However, saying that the Thunder are going to fall off is just false. They are still one of the best teams in the Western Conference and, as long as Durant and Westbrook are there and healthy, that’s not going to change any time soon.