Can the Oklahoma City Thunder break through and cash on the NBA odds in 2015? They were stopped by the Miami Heat in 2012, by injuries in 2013, and by the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.
Why The Thunder Will Go Over the Number
The Thunder are arriving at a point where they have plenty of experience but still more than enough youthful energy to negotiate the NBA playoffs. The Thunder have seen superstar Kevin Durant make a very wise decision to not play for the United States men’s basketball team in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball this past September. Durant thought that the Americans could win the gold medal without him, which was accurate, and the U.S. team won even without a lot of other top stars, including injured Indiana Pacer wing Paul George. Durant calculated that part of the situation, and he also wound up resting himself for the season that counts. Oklahoma City has usually gone deep into the NBA playoffs since 2011, and the only question is whether the Thunder can make the final few steps in May and June. One thing to remember about this team is that Russell Westbrook was injured for much of last season, and in all probability, that might have hurt this team in terms of what it could do in the playoffs. Westbrook had to regroup after being sidelined, and that set back this team in terms of feeling comfortable on the court. Backup point guard Reggie Jackson might have had more energy if Westbrook hadn’t gone down. On the other hand, Jackson played really well in Westbrook’s absence, and so this team is better positioned to deal with various types of situations. It should have better adapting skills than in the past. Energy and talent are ready to combine to get this team to the next plateau.
There’s also the addition of Anthony Morrow, who’ll boost this team’s three-point shooting ability. He finished fourth in three-point field goal percentage last season (.451) and should help the Thunder improve. They were only 14th in that category a season ago. Also with the maturity from Steven Adams, who is entering his second season, this team looks locked and loaded.
Why The Thunder Will Stay Under the Number
The Thunder did not have much of a bench last season, and that lack of both depth and balance really showed up in the playoffs, especially against the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the kind of depth that wound up exposing the Thunder’s weaker points. Oklahoma City doesn’t have a strong low-post scorer. Serge Ibaka is an excellent defender and rim protector, but he’s not a back-to-the-basket scorer who takes a dump-down in the low post and uses a set of moves to get around his man. Kendrick Perkins was an acquisition that made sense when it happened a few years ago, but Perkins is really a guy who is out of place against the best teams in the league such as San Antonio and Cleveland (and formerly Miami), which had mobile big men and fluid playing styles that did not stagnate in the post and instead forced opposing centers to come out and play 15 feet from the basket. Ibaka gives Oklahoma City what it needs, and Nick Collison gives these things as well, but Steven Adams is a project, and he’s probably not going to be ready enough to be the complete player who can plug up the Thunder’s holes in the paint.
In the final analysis of the NBA odds, this team is ready to win 60 games. It’s the playoffs where things might get tougher.
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