The highest seed within the Western Convention, the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, have been eradicated in 5 video games from the Convention Semifinals spherical by the Memphis Grizzlies. After profitable 60 video games and hoping for a rematch in opposition to the Miami Warmth within the NBA Finals, the Thunder are as an alternative going dwelling early and questioning what else they might have finished to remain alive.The Thunder have been the second workforce to be eradicated after the Chicago Bulls. Whereas the Bulls’ season qualifies as successful regardless of accidents, the Thunder’s season is extra of a wash. With the knee harm level guard Russell Westbrook suffered within the first sequence, the ceiling was considerably lowered on this workforce. Nevertheless, this 12 months was finals or bust for the Thunder, who wished one other shot at profitable their first title ever. Even shedding to the Grizzlies in 5 video games was a disappointing consequence.
This begs the query: the place would the Thunder have gotten if Westbrook had remained wholesome? Their offense was No. 2 within the league, whereas their protection was No. four, they usually had home-court benefit as much as the Finals. It was conceivable that they might have made all of it the best way again to the Finals, however once more be defeated by Miami. Nevertheless, even the Warmth might not be completely wholesome this 12 months, and a wholesome Thunder workforce could have had sufficient to tug off the upset.The commerce of James Harden to the Houston Rockets will likely be seemed upon as one of many worst selections the franchise made this 12 months. They have been utterly uncovered at level guard after Westbrook went down, a place that Harden may simply have stepped into. The Thunder could try to re-sign Kevin Martin, Harden’s alternative, however Martin is a pure scorer, whereas Harden was additionally capable of deal with the ball, dish it off for assists, and make his personal pictures.Thankfully for OKC, the workforce doesn’t have so as to add a lot this offseason to be aggressive once more subsequent 12 months. Westbrook will likely be again wholesome, and Reggie Jackson is growing into a good backup level guard. The workforce does want a pure level guard, nevertheless, particularly to again up Westbrook. Jackson is extra of a taking pictures guard who takes level guard duties typically. How they match up with the Miami Warmth, nevertheless, will stay to be seen subsequent 12 months regardless of their lineup.
Even when nothing adjustments for the Thunder, they may stay the favorites to win the Western Convention subsequent 12 months, so long as they continue to be wholesome. Much more happily for them, well being has not often been an issue. They’re nonetheless younger and athletic sufficient to compete with any workforce within the league, and proficient sufficient to win a seven-game sequence in opposition to anybody within the West.