After being knocked out of the Western Conference Playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder have again failed to make any major adjustments to the roster during the off-season. The Thunder have added sharpshooter Anthony Morrow and Sebastian Telfair via free agency. On paper that might not look like much but it’s just enough to make them favorites to win it all in 2015.
This is less to do with the Morrow signing and more to do with the fact that while other teams are desperately trying to find their own big two or big three, the Thunder already have theirs in place. Think of it this way: If the Thunder were to only currently have Kevin Durant and then happened to acquire Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka via free agency, fans would be ecstatic. Everyone loves the shiny new toy, but the biggest winners in free agency are the teams that don’t have the need to make any big acquisitions.
Many fans in Oklahoma City have been anxiously awaiting the Thunder to make a big move in free agency for the last two years. Any added talent is always nice, but it isn’t necessary for the Thunder to win a championship. Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Reggie Jackson will all be back together for the 2014-2015 season. Keep in mind that the average age of this core group of guys is just 24-years old. The Thunder have exceeded expectations so quickly that it’s easy to forget just how young in their careers these players are. This is not even including the emerging 21-year-old New Zealander, Steven Adams. He was a big contributor during the 2014 playoffs and will build on that success for the upcoming season. Being able to retain the same core group of guys that took the Thunder to the Western Conference finals last year is a rare commodity to have and should be appreciated more than it has been.
Adding a big name free agent isn’t the only way of taking that next step, staying healthy is. Injuries happen to every team but when a key player goes down, typically expectations temper and rightfully so. The Thunder had to play the 2013 playoffs without Westbrook and went down a quick two games in the 2014 Western Conference finals without Ibaka. That’s a tough task for any team to overcome and the Thunder are no exception to that.
If the injury bug doesn’t haunt Oklahoma City this year in the playoffs, a championship will certainly ensue.