Dec. 6th, a little less than a quarter of the season has passed, and the Thunder finally have all 15 players healthy. Coach Scott Brooks finally has an empty injury report. Let the thunder storm begin.
Currently, the reigning number one seed in the always competitive west, sit at 5-13, leaving them five and a half games back of the eighth and final spot for playoff contention. Media all across the country are beginning to wonder if the Thunder’s surge is too late into the season. They have a tremendous uphill battle to even be considered for the eighth spot in the Western conference.
But with reigning MVP Kevin Durant back from foot surgery and superstar Russell Westbrook back in the lineup this dynamic duo has a tough task ahead of them. With the window of error so small, the Oklahoma City must be dominant for the rest of the season.
Analysts, writers, and fans are slowly beginning to write off the Thunder for making the playoffs. But why? If you ask me, this team is just getting started. Durant and Westbrook are arguably the best duo in the league. Role players, Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams were forced to step up due to the absence of the team’s two leading scorers. With these role players coming into form, and the stars finally healthy, the time is now for the Thunder to start winning and winning a lot.
As it stands now, the Phoenix Suns hold the 8th seed in the West. They are a very young team who love to run up and down but play very little defense. With very little veteran leadership on that team, odds are they can’t keep pace with the western conference playoff race. As for the other teams standing in the way, none are legit contenders. The Sacramento Kings have been a great story with early season success, but same holds true as the Suns. The Kings are without a go to player that can carry this team come later March. The Pelicans arguably have the second best player in the league with in Anthony Davis but his time will come later. So what really is stopping the Oklahoma City Thunder from finding their way back into the playoffs?
The answer is simple; themselves. When healthy, they are a force to be reckoned with. The duo along with emerging star Serge Ibaka make this Thunder team one of the league’s best team. But one simple injury to one of their big three will derail their season for good. Another major factor is chemistry. It will be difficult to send the role players back to the bench and integrate Durant and Westbrook, along with Anthony Morrow and Mitch McGary who are also returning from injury, into the lineup. Say, it takes them about 10 games to get into their groove and go a mere 5-5. That will put them into a bigger hole to dig out of. But their upcoming schedule is pretty friendly so they shouldn’t have trouble getting back into form.
I don't know about y’all, but I’m not betting my money against Kevin durant and company to make the playoffs.