The Oklahoma City Thunder Will Not Win The NBA Championship This Year
Looking at the Lakers, it is obvious how they have found success. Their bench does not provide much support, but they have a dominating presence inside and probably the best shooting guard in the history of basketball. At the end of games, the Lakers can either go down to the post with Bynum or Gasol or can kick it out to Kobe. The threat of being able to go inside or outside provides the Lakers with a formidable late game offense.
All of the past NBA champions have been balanced like this year’s Spurs or at least had an inside and outside threat at the end of games like the Lakers.
Last year might seem deceptive as Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki consistently knocked down jump shots to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a title. What must be remembered is that Dallas team was as deep as any in the league. Tyson Chandler anchored the defense and gave the Mavs a toughness that had not been present in previous seasons, but the Mavericks could also put Brendan Haywood in to score down low. Jason Kidd led the offense, but J.J. Barea came off the bench and was able to score in the lane. While Nowitzki and Terry shot the lights out during the postseason, Dallas had so many players that could dominate the game.
The Lakers teams that won during the 2000s always had a balanced attack with Kobe on the outside and Bynum and Gasol on the inside (or Shaq on the inside). The San Antonio Spurs teams that won were always balanced, as were the Detroit Pistons when they upset the Lakers in 2004. The Miami Heat team that shocked the Dallas Mavericks in 2006 relied on Shaq inside and Dwayne Wade outside, but most of Wade’s points did not come from jump shots. Wade was able to drive into the heart of the Dallas defense and get to the rim. Lastly, the Boston Celtics team that won in 2008 had a strong team led by a Big 3 consisting of a sharp shooter in Ray Allen, clutch shot maker in Paul Pierce, and dominant big man in Kevin Garnett. However, the Celtics had several role players who came through for them in the playoffs including James Posey, Tony Allen, and even P.J. Brown.
Looking back at history, the trend seems to show that to win an NBA championship, it helps to be balanced, but it is necessary to have the ability to play inside out. Records are broken and new trends are set as history changes and sports evolve. 30 years ago, players didn’t dunk and the entire game of basketball was about shooting jump shots. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the most exciting teams in the league, reverts back to the jump shooting days of the NBA when the game is in its final minutes. Obviously there are exceptions, but it seems as though the Thunder depend on Durant and Westbrook to make fourth quarter jump shots to win games.
ESPN analyst Skip Bayless has been harsh on Russell Westbrook for taking as many shots as Kevin Durant. In response, Durant argued that the Thunder is not as efficient when Durant takes more shots than Westbrook. He claims that he plays better when he is facilitating and Westbrook is shooting. Ironically, he said that the statistics don’t back him up, but they do. This season, the Thunder is 20-4 when Durant takes less shots than Westbrook. In fact, in those 20 wins, the Thunder has won by an average of more than 12 points.