The Oklahoma City Thunder Will Not Win The NBA Championship This Year
The Thunder has one of the best defensive big men in the game in Kendrick Perkins as well as a 44% three-point shooter and lockdown defender in Thabo Sefolosha. Thanks to the Lakers, the Thunder also has Derrick Fisher who has as much playoff experience as any athlete in sports.
The Thunder’s head coach, Scotty Brooks, was named coach of the year in the NBA in 2010 and also had the distinction of being the head coach for the West in this year’s All-Star Game. And of course it cannot be forgotten that the Thunder has one of the best shooting guards trapped in a point guard’s body to ever play the game of basketball in Russell Westbrook. He can rise up and knock down an 18-footer whenever he wants.
The team is up 2-0 in its series against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and looks like it is on its way to a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. The Thunder beat the Lakers two out of three times in the regular season and its only loss to Kobe came when James Harden was taken out of the game in the first half by an elbow from Metta World Peace.
So, the Thunder has one of the best rosters in the league, one of the best coaches in the league, and a favorable schedule coming up…and none of that matters. It is all a smokescreen because the way that the Thunder turns the ball over and relies on perimeter scoring sets the team up for failure.
The Oklahoma City Thunder led the NBA in turnovers this season averaging 16.3 per game. Durant typically turned the ball over almost four times a game and Westbrook averaged 3.6 turnovers a game. Giving the ball to the opposing team never helps, but when a team leads the league in turnovers it is necessary to question the decision-making ability of the players on that team as well as the coaching staff. Maintaining possession of the ball comes down to understanding the fundamentals of the game, but this fault of the Thunder reflects a deeper problem that exists. The team does not utilize its players to their maximum potential because it does not have a functioning team concept. At the end of games, the Thunder depends on Westbrook and Durant to score. If their shots go in, then the Thunder wins. If they don’t, then the Thunder loses.
The Thunder is different from other top teams in the league because it doesn’t have a balanced offensive attack. This can be seen by looking at two of the best teams in the Western Conference: the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Spurs are not only the deepest team in the league, but they also average the most points in the fourth quarter. They have a multitude of players who can score, but they can go inside with Tim Duncan or outside with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Parker and Ginobili can make jump shots, but they are also known for their ability to get into the lane. Parker is as quick as any guard in the league, but only Ginobili is as crafty as Parker when it comes to finding a way to get a lay-up. Duncan is older now and doesn’t have the same mobility that he once did, but he is still a threat in the post. But, it hasn’t been all about these three players for the Spurs this season. Gary Neal has made clutch three-point shots as can be seen here: