Thunder’s Time Is Now, Right Now!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS —Β For years now we’ve tried to come up with an appropriate comparison for Kevin Durant, for a comparable player with a near 7-footer’s length and the skill of an elite shooting guard.

And for years, we’ve come up empty here at the hideout. There is no one that we can think of that captures exactly what Durant brings to the floor every night.

After seeing what Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and the Thunder in an overtime win over the Denver Nuggets Sunday night, we’re giving up that fight. We’re prepared to classify Durant, in particular, in a category all his own.

But it’s never been more obvious that he has the sort of help surrounding him that could push the Thunder into the championship realm just a few years into the glorious basketball experiment going on in Oklahoma City.

No team in the long and illustrious history of the league has had a player score 50, another score 40 and another notch a triple double, until the Thunder trio did it against the Nuggets. The last time two teammates notched a 50 and 40 point game on the same night was 1983, when Kiki Vandeweghe (51) and Alex English (47) got loose.

Durant finished with a breathtaking and career-high 51 points (on 19-for-28 shooting and including a 5-for-6 performance from beyond the 3-point line). Westbrook turned in a season-high of his own, finishing with 40 points, nine assists and four rebounds. And Ibaka topped it off with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks.

Not one of them is over the age of 23, a mind-boggling footnote in an otherworldly performance.

That blinding light shining in your face right now is the Thunder’s future and it begins and ends with those three and James Harden at the forefront of one of the most compelling youth movements the league has seen in a while.

Anyone that assumes they aren’t up to the task of taming the rugged Western Conference this season is clearly not paying attention. That playoff scare they gave the Los Angeles Lakers a couple of years ago was the platform they needed to catapult themselves into the mix of the best of the best.

They were the media darlings of the league a year ago, nabbing magazine covers and the national spotlight before they’d ever won a playoff series. But they proved their mettle by grinding their way to the Western Conference finals, where they were schooled by a veteran Dallas Mavericks team on its way to winning a title.

For the folks who feel like this Thunder crew still hasn’t paid its dues, that it is (as someone told us via Twitter) “missing something,” we don’t see anything missing.

That’s not to say the Thunder will win it all this season. The Mavericks taught us all how foolish it is to assume anything this time of year (remember, it was Miami’s time last season). And February predictions are just as valid as August predictions … useless in a league that tears up the script when the playoffs begin.

But the Thunder should be on your short list this season. Even with one of the youngest core groups in the league, it’s never been more obvious that their time is now!


  1. KC says:

    gotta give the heat credit. they are the team to beat. Also watch NY as a dark horse.

  2. charles says:

    That performance was truly mind boggling. If those four sign again with the thunder and stay healthy, the thunder have along dynasty ahead of them.

  3. Sigmund says:

    I hope OKC get Miami and the frozen one in finals. Then they will 100% become champions.

  4. andrew says:

    loook okc is goood, but if they meeet in the finals with MIAMI or maybe even bulls they will lose with out a doubt.. .
    REASON being: theey have dont have alot of playoff or FINALS experience. they TURNOVER the ball the most in the nba… as a result it will be LOB CITY for MIAMI HEAT… plus heat and bulls have the BEST yes the BEST DEFENSE since the mchael jordan era… OKC is all ofense no defense… DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONS SHIPS.. and miami learned that very well last yeear…

    • michael says:

      So the Heat and Bulls have Championship Caliber defence and the Thunder have no defence and yet the Thunder are holding their opponents to a lower field goal percentage than either the Heat or Bulls for the season, weird, I always thought it took defence to keep your opponents FG% low, maybe the Thunder have just been getting lucky all season and catching their opponents on off shooting nights.

  5. Rudy Gay says:

    Everyone is forgetting the Memphis Grizzlies. Without their star player Rudy Gay they took OKC to game 7 last year. By playoff time the Grizz will hopefully have a full healthy lineup. If OKC wants to win they must work on defence and turnovers. I think there it is between memphis, okc, spurs, and dallas for the western conference. OKC still must prove before they claim the title.

  6. Julius says:

    No doubt this team is a serious contender, they have great pieces to contend for the next decade. However at present, their defence is pretty shaky. Particularly their transition D and perimeter D.

    Perkins matches up well with Centres and Ibaka is a phenomenal shot blocker. When was the last time a PF was this good at rejecting shots? However, I can see them seriosly struggling against Miami should they meet up in the finals.

  7. Tyler B says:

    For those of you who are saying that the Thunder aren’t the team beat in the west you’re crazy!! there are ONLY two teams that can give OKC a run for their money, Memphis and SA. Memphis grizzlies are beast, Mike Conley is playing the PG spot extremely well for them and once they get Z-Bo back they will be ridiculous especially with Gasol and Gay. As for the Spurs they are old and I hate watching them because it’s so boring but their coach is outstanding!! and for those of you who say Dallas is the team to beat, you are completely ignorant. They are nothing without Tyson Chandler, he was the heart and soul of that defense, AND they lost JJ barea. (as much as I didn’t like him he was a key player). Now on to my Thunder… we need to work on our turnovers and that is pretty much the only weakness I see in our game! But if it’s Thunder/Heat finals the Heat make everything look so effortless and they have to much firepower. I would like our chances better with Thunder/Bulls!

    • jeff says:

      c-mon man u said that dallas is nothing without chandler, but they’re currently a top 10 defense. btw the thunder have more problems than people want to say like for e.g. to, defense and to much dependency on westbrook durant and harden and beside those tree nobody can score with enough consintensy

  8. Kevin DUrant MVP says:

    Kevin Durant is best player πŸ˜€ he is a legend! :DD

  9. Javier says:

    OKC defense is not good and are the #1 team in turnovers, no way to win a championship with this kind of ball managment. Everything else i just awesome from this team i love OKC.

  10. Nate says:

    The Thunder is missing a big man that can score. I am from OKC born and raised and I love the Thunder and was not impressed with that OT win against Denver. Denver should have never been that close we need to play better defense.

    • DM8488 says:

      okc here also. seems they always play just well enuff to win and far as D goes when its really needed at the end of a game, they bring it and win. hope they soon turn into a team with a kill em all mentallity and when they get a team down they step on their throat as the saying goes. this seems to be whats missing to me

  11. Quintin says:

    Durantula > Lebron

  12. dayvon says:

    Man i think they will be in the finals but the only thingin there way is me the chicago bulls the best team there is they need to get there game UPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!1

  13. Baby Pono says:

    Clippers and Mavs have been putting on a good show this year, but the title goes to the Thunders. They have everything it takes to take the championship trophy this year. Champs of 2012 will be OKC!!!

  14. Patrickmarc says:

    If Lamar Odom start to wake up, Dallas will be the team to beat again this year.

  15. Teriac says:

    The thunder are truly legitimate title contenders. If they find a way to win the western conference, the heat/bulls will have a tough series

  16. King James says:

    It’s too early to say that OKC will win this year because of one game.. even though they have the best record in the nba (same with Miami) they have lack of experience when it comes in playoffs time.. For Your Information the last team won NBA Championship with a best record in the NBA are the Boston Celtics that is 2008. Last year every one thought that Bulls and Spurs (the best record in the NBA last year) will going to meet in the finals but what happened to them?..Spurs exit in the first round and bulls exit in 3rd round..

  17. Smartest says:

    I think the Thunder are awesome. But like I was looking at the report cards of the HEAT SPURS THUNDER and BULLS. Both of the top eastern conferance teams currently have A- while the two top Westerners have A’s. Event though the thunder have been awsome the bulls deserve the same grade as well along with Miami. (I’m a bulls fan) The bulls have rarely been at full strength but perhaps when they will we’ll be able to see if the grades are everything.

  18. Raf says:

    I don’t know how you can see a game where the Thunder has 50 from Durant, 40 from Westbrook and a triple double from Ibaka (and they had 40-30 and the triple double BEFORE overtime) at home against a Denver without Gallinari or Nene, only won the game in overtime, and wonder why people are still saying the Thunder is missing something.

    People are saying the Thunder is missing something exactly because these incredible individual stats are not necessarily adding up to team domination. Meanwhile, Miami is crushing playoff-bound teams with such efficiency that the Big Three are getting to rest their legs and stay out of the line of fire a bit. They’re putting the team and the playoffs ahead of racking up the best possible regular season individual stats. If OKC can start doing something approaching that, then they become a team to be feared and not just respected.

  19. wyatt says:

    one day…hopefully in the playoffs this year, the thunder will finally face a fully healthy grizzlies team. the rivalry is established between the west’s two best YOUNG teams. too bad over the past two seasons, the thunder have maybe played just ONE game out of 14 against a completely healthy grizzlies team. that is what i am excited to watch. hopefully we’ll get it in the playoffs. thunder are great. i hate them though.

    • DM8488 says:

      rivalry? uh no get inline Dallas LA or Denver is more of a rivalry for Thunder and youll see zbo against a healthy Perk which opens Ibaka up for blocks. imo i think grizz played better without Gay

  20. Ben says:

    People saying Denver were missing key players and still nearly won are missing the point. The Thunder were behind 5 with 30 seconds to play and played those 30 seconds perfectly. Any team can push any other team on their day (ok, maybe not the Bobcats), what determines whether you have the calibre to win when you need to in the playoffs is moments like this. Every time the Thunder got behind, they rallied. They outplayed Denver in the clutch considerably. Plus, frankly, just look at the +/- of OKC’s starters. It was OKCs bench that got outplayed, and while that worries me a little given how strong the bench was against Dallas in last years playoffs, the bench will not be where OKC win or lose the championship.

  21. j kidd says:

    kevin l ive seen tons of players but those number up. did you forget about jason kid, healthy grant hill.

    • DM8488 says:

      Grant Hill 1 of my all time favs! not for his game really, but for GREAT person he is. a true role model for up coming players and kids!

  22. ko0kiE says:

    btw. am I the only one who is suprised how well Andre Miller still plays? denver seems like the perfect team for him.. coming of the bench and be the counter-part to ty lawson aggressive and up-tempo attacks.

    give him props πŸ˜‰

  23. Kevin L says:

    Come on, its just one game. If you think that a Bulls team or a Spurs or Heat would let them score 120+ points and turn the ball over 5 times in a row in the clutch, you are crazy. Im not impressed at all, DEN was missing at least 3 KEY players and they were still leading by 5 in the final minute.

    And you know why OKC wont win anything this year? Defense. There’s only one guy on the team who can consistently defend, and thats Ibaka. KD cant, Westbrick neither.

    And also, dont let one game fool you in the MVP Race, LBJ has been beastin in ALL SIDES of the floor, playing 5,4,3,1, defending 5,4,3,1 and having numbers we havent seen since Oscar Robertson

    • OKCKD35 says:

      Don’t Forget
      OKC was missing 2 key players (Thabo Sefolosha our best perimiter defender, and Eric Maynor our # 2 point guard.) Nene cant do anything against Perkins anyways lol.

      • ko0kiE says:

        I agree with you both.. partially πŸ˜‰

        @Kevin L: obviously you don’t know that much about the thunder team..thabo sefolosha is one the best perimeter defender in the nba and you don’t even mention him.

        @OKCKD: yeah Sefolosha and Maynor are integral parts of the thunder lineup.. but nene and gallinari are both starters and much more important than i.e. Maynor.

      • DM8488 says:

        help me here guys Parker went off for 40+ and the other guard who torched the thunder??? but point is with Thabo those 2 wouldnt have. with Thabo they see a much improved D by the Thunder.

  24. D says:

    What a game! Serge Ibaka needs to play like that more often! Mad props to the stars also but Ibaka had 11 blocks with a triple double! WOW! OKC could be major contenders as the west is struggling the aging Spurs and Lakers.

    • DM8488 says:

      yeah IBAKA! but his game is really helped by the guy so many say isnt much good, Perkins! he allows Ibaka such freedom to really lurk and slap em outta there! those 2 are a great pair to compliment each other!

  25. D says:

    I really like OKC but everybody counted the Spurs out in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 too. OKC is definitely the future (and I’m very happy for them. OKC is my hometown & I also loved the Sonics) but don’t dismiss the Spurs, AGAIN.

  26. Josh says:

    As a Thunder fan, I could not agree less to this point of view. This game was insane, every one’s ok with that. But the Nuggets were playing without three crucial players (Nene, Fernandez & Gallinari…), and they still push OKC till the end. Turnovers still are a major problem for OKC, and u don’t win in the playoffs turning the ball over (remember Dallas and their perfect execution down the strecht in WCF). They are dead last in the NBA in TO/game.
    I want them to win it all, but they lack discipline, execution and veteran savvy right now… and as Barkley says, they are too much of a jumpshooting team… they need to pound the ball inside more, limit their TOs the more they can, and keep learning the hard way. In the near future, they will have difficult choices to make with Ibaka, Harden and Maynor. And their capacity to keep them will determine their faith…

  27. tron says:

    yeah the spurs are boring to watch. But they beat both the Thunder and Clippers this season. They beat the Clips twice dude.

  28. KD 4 says:

    durant should be the MVP this year and i think it is the time for the thunder.
    it would be their first ever championship as oklahoma city thunder franchise

    • subzero says:

      maybe in 2015 theyll win a title dallas proved defense is more important than offense last year and boston in 08 and 010 despite losing in 7 to la

  29. tin says:

    what is that?

  30. AlonZO says:

    As of this time,Oklahoma is showing that THEY are the TEAM to BEAT in the WEST. They have been the most consistent team in the western conference and KEVIN DURANT has been playing an MVP season. He plays BIG in the clutch and has turned himself into a very good slasher/shooter at the same time making himself very difficult to guard. And what strikes me most is him scoring 51 points almost without any effort. He makes basketball look very easy.

  31. prix says:

    For what the OKC show right now, it simply tells us that they own the West this year…the Clips and the Mavs are lurking and we hope that Billups will come back so they could give the Clips a great fight..I think only Clips stand a chance againts them..Mavs are too old..Spurs are simply boring and just a 2nd round team..Lakers are dead..Portland could make it if Aldrige comes back 100%..OKC-Miami or Bulls in the finals no doubt..

    • ko0kiE says:

      don’t be so sure. just because the Spurs are boring doesn’t mean they aren’t winning (which they do..currently 10 in row) gregg popovich is a great coach and he has a more balanced and deep team than ever. yes Duncan and Ginobli aren’t in their primes anymore but parker is and they have enough young skilled players to get it done.
      also the Mavs are getting better and better as they learn how to use their new players effectively…
      and last but not least I think the Grizzlies are such a dangerous team.. and right now they don’t even have their best player in Z-Bo.. I hope we see them at full strength in the playoffs.. I doubt OKC would have won last years series with Gay healthy.

    • Jesse says:

      Those boring Spurs are the same boring Spurs that have won 4 titles since 1999. Your an idiot

  32. Jones17 says:

    All that money and Westbrook wears them bins? 0/10 for style lol