At 40-16, it feels borderline insane to look at such a strong Oklahoma City Thunder team and wonder if they should be panicking. Unfortunately for them, the unprecedented dominance of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs should have every team petrified.
Since Russell Westbrook took home the All-Star Game MVP, the Thunder’s start to the second half of the season has been disastrous. Two uncharacteristic home losses at the hands of the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers suddenly have skeptics questioning Oklahoma City’s title-contender status.
During a surprisingly dull NBA trade deadline, the Thunder acquired Nuggets swingman Randy Foye – a move most considered entirely insignificant with regards to their title hopes. It’s a desperate attempt by OKC’s front office to get some production at the shooting guard position, as the combination of Andre Roberson, Anthony Morrow and Dion Waiters has been horrendous all season.
Things are so bad, this hilarious compilation of gaffes by Waiters is only from one game:
But for as much as Oklahoma City’s front office tries to build a supporting cast for Westbrook and Kevin Durant, their championship aspirations rest squarely on the shoulders of their dynamic duo. The iso-heavy offense that was supposed to disappear with the arrival of coach Billy Donovan is still in place, and should once again prove to be the Thunder’s biggest weakness.
While it currently has them ranked second in the league in offensive efficiency, rotations shrink, defensive effort intensifies and ball movement becomes more important than ever during the postseason. Sadly for the Thunder, it’s not the collection of players, but the brand of basketball they choose to play that should have them panicking.
The Thunder are a great regular season team oozing with talent, but their indifference on defense and over-reliance on Westbrook and Durant ensures that this season will not end with a championship. This postseason, the Spurs or Warriors are poised to remind everyone of this fact.