The Thunder are the 2nd best ranked team in the NBA odds this offseason, and at +600, they are right behind the 2-time champion Miami Heat, who come into this offseason as +200 favorites to win the NBA Title this season.
Future Odds (+600)
While I think they could live up to their odds right now, they are not a 6/1 team to win the NBA Title. They couldn’t beat Miami with James Harden, and I find it very hard to believe they can do it this season. The Heat have just gotten better this offseason, and unless Kevin Durant scores 35 points a night and shoots the ball over 50% from the floor, I can’t see Oklahoma City winning a title this season. The West has also gotten better this season, and these threats have put their #1 seed out West in serious jeopardy.
There are several things that need to be done before the Thunder are title contenders. They need someone who can score off the bench, even if it’s only 10-15 points per game, and they need some consistent post offense and defense from Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. While all of these things are within the realm of possibility, for them all to happen for the entire season is farfetched.
All in the post
I have said this before and I will say it again, the Thunder will not win a championship with Perkins playing center. It will not happen, especially without Harden to play the 6th man. Not only are they turning to an unproven commodity this season to play the role of bench scorer, but Perkins’ lofty contract and declining post defense make him as close to a liability on the floor as they come.
Ibaka is not an offensive threat outside of the occasional open jump shot and receiving an alley-oop, and Perkins is as far from being an offensive threat as I am. Hell, Miley Cyrus is more offensive than Perkins. With Durant and Westbrook having guard-like skill sets, and the Thunder having no offensive post presence to speak of, all the Heat or any other team would have to do is gamble on the perimeter and rebound the ball. Plus the ability to double Durant and Westbrook triples without a steady offensive post player, and I don’t think Ibaka is ready to make that leap.
That is why I think the Thunder are overvalued in the NBA Odds, and for the first time, I think they may be a pretty good fade, especially early on. They go on the road for five of their first eight games, and they have to play the Clippers and Warriors four times within the first month of the season.
While I would not be surprised in the least if the Thunder were the team to keep the Heat from winning a third in a row, I think they are still one player away. By not amnestying Perkins this offseason, (even though it was probably the right move financially and logically) they have basically said they are going to wait one more year before going all in to win the title. They need his salary cap space open to sign a reliable third scoring option, likely a big man.
Join the discussion on the upcoming 2013-14 NBA season on SBRForum's basketball message boards!