Don’t think because the Thunder have gotten to the next level and the next tier of excellence that they’re going to stop there. They’re not done. Actually, far from it. They’re on their way to winning an NBA championship. 5 years ago Kevin Durant joined the Oklahoma City Thunder or Seattle Supersonics as they were known and won 20 games. 20 games. The next year they picked up Russell Westbrook in the draft. They won 23 that year. In 2009, they picked up James Harden and Serge Ibaka and won 50 games, while suffering a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Lakers in the first round. The next year, they were the 4th seed in the NBA and won 55 games. They advanced to the conference finals but lost in 6 games to the Dallas Mavericks who went on to win the NBA championship. This year they clinched the 2nd seed in the West by winning 47 out of 66 games. That was just to highlight the growth and development of this team as a unit. They worked their way up through hard work and patience and they progressed every single year. Kevin Durant is now a 3 time scoring champion, James Harden the 6th man of the year, and Russell Westbrook a top 5 point guard in the NBA. Now they’re in the NBA finals. It wasn’t easy though, they were down 2-0 to a team who had won 20 games in a row and looked unstoppable. However, they won 4 in a row and finished the aging Spurs and are now bound to win an NBA championship, with their three best players all under the age of 24. So, if they don’t win it this year, which they most likely will, they will certainly win it in the years to come.
What’s so good about the Thunder? How did this small market team come out of nowhere in the past 5 years and take over the NBA? Well, one thing is for certain they have every piece to the puzzle in place. They all know their roles and there is not a hole in this roster that needs filling. They have the unstoppable scorer, the best 6th man in the NBA, and a top 5 point guard. They have the runner up for defensive player of the year playing alongside Kendrick Perkins one of the grittiest, and toughest players in the NBA. They have Thabo Sefolosha, one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. On the bench, Derrick Fisher a 5 time NBA champion who brings the wisdom and experience to the young team. They have Nick Collinson a terrific post defender and pick and roll defender. Daquon Cook even gave the Thunder a boost beyond the arc in this series. Everybody knows their role and everybody is so damn good at it. They are so good defensively, because they are constantly helping each other out. Offensively, they are often too quick for most teams in the league. Besides the Heat, no team gets up and down the floor as quickly as the Thunder do. Then of course, it’s nearly impossible to stop Kevin Durant from scoring, and if you focus too much on him then Westbrook puts you on a poster while Harden gets another and 1.
The reason they are destined for an NBA championship is because neither team in the Eastern Conference finals can beat the Thunder in a best of 7 series. The Celtics first off are too slow and I don’t think they can compete with the youth and quickness of the Thunder. Sure, we all said that about them vs the Heat but it’s different. The Heat can’t beat the Celtics because of the lack of depth, the Celtics make up for their lack of athleticism with their overwhelming depth. The Thunder however, are the better version of the Heat. They have their own big 3 but they have so many premier role players that there is no area in which they lack. The other thing is that the Heat are having troubles because the Big 2 are finding it extremely hard to get to the basket because of the stifling Celtic defense and because of Garnett in the middle. James and Wade aren’t great shooters however, Durant, Harden and Westbrook don’t need to get to the basket to score. They can all shoot the ball from everywhere on the floor, especially Durant. They shouldn’t have a problem settling for jumpers, because they do that naturally already. Perkins or Ibaka can also outmuscle and outplay Brandon Bass down low, another minor advantage that could prove invaluable if these two teams meet up. And one of the most important things is the Celtics have yet to face a team in the playoffs with a defender who can really bother Garnett. Al Horford was the closest thing to Ibaka and Perkins yet and Garnett averaged 18 and 10 against him. Garnett has yet to play against a really good and tough post defender and a tough big man in the playoffs. He won’t be playing against a Spencer Hawes or Joel Anthony. He’ll get takes from Ibaka and Perkins and that will completely alter his production making it much harder for the Celtics to score. If the Thunder play the Heat, well it should be even easier. The Thunder are just a better version of the Heat and a younger version. Instead of a Big 2, and an inconsistent 3, they have a really big young 3. Instead of no big men, they have Perkins and Ibaka, with Collison for support. Instead of aging veterans surrounding them, they have young talented players like Sefolosha, and Harden. The Thunder would pound the Heat inside. Ibaka and Perkins would absolutely have their way down low and would outrebound everybody on the Heat, making it a lot harder for the Heat to get out and run, which is what they love to do. Additionally, the depth of the Thunder would prove lethal like the depth of the Celtics is proving to be against Miami. Durant and Lebron will cancel out, Westbrook and Wade will cancel out and we know Harden will produce more then Bosh so there goes their big three. And when the stars in Miami are out the Heat can’t handle Harden and Derrick Fisher on the perimeter. They’re outnumbered and outmatched as they say.
The Thunder may have improved this season and gotten to the next level, but i assure you they’re not finished. In fact, there is tons more to come.