The Oklahoma City Thunder failed to make the playoffs last year due to injuries to their star players Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. KD only played in 27 of the Thunder’s games last year via Basketball-Reference. Many may have forgotten about Kevin Durant’s dominance in the league with his long absence and the emergence of the 2015 MVP Stephen Curry and the runner-up MVP James Harden. Another player to emerge as an MVP capable player is KD’s running mate, Russell Westbrook. Kevin Durant lead the league in scoring 3 years straight. Durant also lead the NBA in free throws made 5 years straight as he dominated the league with his offensive arsenal. Behind KD’s dominance the Thunder made the playoffs 5 years in a row before last season. The Thunder also fired their 6 year head coach Scott Brooks last season and hired Billy Donovan as their new head coach. Now that his rehab is going well and he is scheduled to be 100% at the start of next season what could we expect from Durant and co?
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a tough task ahead of them with teams in the west revamping their rosters to become even better than they already were. The 8 teams that made the playoffs last season with the exemption of two teams have all gotten better this offseason which will make it harder for OKC to make it out of the west. No body is doubting OKC will make it to the playoffs, when healthy they are still a top 5 team in the NBA but with every other team in their conference seemingly getting better have their chances at a title slimmed down? Durant has been quoted stating he is tired of coming in second and he expects to be number 1 next season.
“I’ve been second my whole life,” Durant tells SI‘s Lee Jenkins in a profile that will hit newsstands on Thursday. “I was the second-best player in high school. I was the second pick in the draft. I’ve been second in the MVP voting three times. I came in second in the Finals. I’m tired of being second. I’m not going to settle for that. I’m done with it.”
With Durant’s newfound hunger and motivation I expect him to take the next step into greatness and lead his team to the finals. His talent is undeniable, he has had time to rest from his injuries, he also has a top 5 point guard in the NBA on his team to back him up. What else could he possibly be missing? OKC has done a great job rounding out its roster for next season by matching the max contract Enes Kanter received from the Portland Trailblazers. What do you expect from the Oklahoma City Thunder? From not making the playoffs in 2015 to 2016 champions?
Follow me on twitter @RafaelTorresRBI