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Thursday, June 7, 2012

OKC Thunder


Last nights game between the Thunder and Spurs was the best basketball game I have seen in quite some time. We saw the birth of a new mega-star in Kevin Durant, and the potential birth of the next NBA dynasty in the OKC Thunder. The Spurs gave it everything they had, but the young Thunder where just too talented and too athletic for them. Kudos to the Spurs and coach Greg Popovich, for maximizing the most of their talents and winning 20 games in a row this season. The Spurs had a great season and are an extremely well run organization, so it will be no surprise if they continue to defy father time, make deep playoff runs. Without getting help, the Spurs and for that matter any Western Conference team, will be looking up at the Thunder for many seasons to come. more after the jump

After losing the first two games against the Spurs, OKC was able to roll off four consecutive wins. The Spurs had won 20 games in a row before losing their last four games to the Thunder. That is an incredible turnaround by the Thunder. OKC was dominated by the Spurs in the first two games, but they took that experience and learned how to be a TEAM, by watching the Spurs on the court. In games 3-6 the Thunder looked like the Spurs. OKC figured out that in order to be great they must move the ball quickly and get open shots. The Thunder where last in the NBA in assists during the regular season, as they averaged 18.55.  In games 3-6 against the Spurs, the Thunder had 90 assists. By moving the ball quicker, the Thunder where able to get better shots, and where not settling for contested jumpshots. If OKC continues to move the ball like they did against San Antonio, they will be nearly unbeatable. The Thunder learned that settling for contested jumpshots was the major reason they were losing games.

Kevin Durant had his coming out party in the Western Conference Finals. He has made his first NBA Finals and did it by playing the best basketball of anyone in the NBA. Durant has hit three game winning shots in the playoffs. He is averaging; 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists per game during the playoffs. He is getting his teammates involved early in games and then taking over the fourth quarter. At nearly seven feet tall, he is able to shoot over anybody defending him. He also has gotten better at posting up, and taking the ball to the rim. Durant also hounded Kobe Bryant into numerous turnovers, and is getting better at using his long arms to block shots and steal passes. In short, Durant is the best player in the NBA right now.

Looking ahead to the Finals, the Thunder will be favored over whoever wins the Eastern Conference. The Thunder should win the NBA title this season. The Thunder do not have a star on this team that is over the age of 25, so they should be around the NBA Finals for the foreseeable future. The scary part about this, for NBA teams, is the fact that the Thunder are only going to get better as they continue to grow up. The Thunder have everything that you need, to win an NBA title; They have a superstar in Kevin Durant, a point guard who may be the most fun and exciting player in the league in Russell Westbrook. The Thunder also have great interior defense and can protect the rim with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. James Harden is the best sixth man in the NBA, and would start on 95% of NBA teams. OKC also has great depth on the bench and players that know their roles and more importantly are comfortable with their roles. Picking up veteran PG Derek Fisher was a great move, as he gives the Thunder the veteran leadership that they previously lacked. He is like another coach on the bench, and somehow he can still hit big shots in close games.

The Thunder appear to be on the verge of a great dynasty, which should please the NBA. The Thunder are a very likeable team, as they get along great and do not have any troublemakers on the squad. Unlike the Heat, which ESPN wants to be the next dynasty, the Thunder are beloved by most of America. The NBA has to be salivating at the possibility of the Thunder making multiple NBA Finals runs. If you like basketball you should be excited too, because not only are the Thunder fun to watch, they are a now a TEAM, which is a scary thought for the rest of the teams in the NBA. The next few years should be fun to watch unfold , as I believe that eventually the Thunder will surpass MJ's Bulls as the greatest dynasty of the modern NBA era, and it all began last night.

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