Blogtable: What To Make Of OKC?




Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 29: What to make of OKC? | Who can beat the Heat? | The Bulls’ future


Considering the Thunder’s performance lately, has your opinion changed of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook or the Thunder? How?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: No change in my opinion of Durant: If he is, in fact, the second-best player in the NBA, he’s No. 2 more than 1A. The step down from LeBron James to the Thunder’s quiet leader is considerable and plain to see with Durant thrust into LeBron-in-Cleveland mode. No change in my opinion of Westbrook, an irrepressible talent whose unbridled game is a nice complement to Durant. But slight change in my opinion of the Thunder. With the premature James Harden trade, they had as big a hand in this iffy postseason as fate (Westbrook’s injury) or Memphis. New CBA or not, front offices should worry about the financial feasibility of keeping a championship team together, not getting out front to shed parts from a contender before its time.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Not at all. They’re a team missing a vital piece. Nobody ever thought Kevin Durant could carry the Thunder to a championship all by himself. I have been a defender of Russell Westbrook for years and always thought those who believed OKC should trade him couldn’t tell the difference between a basketball and a watermelon. Yes, he exercises poor judgment at times. Yes, he takes wild shots and ignores Durant at times. Yes, he’s a fearless, spectacular talent and KD could crawl across broken glass on a bed of hot coals to have all those “problems” in the lineup with him right now.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: No change here. Kevin Durant has shouldered the weight of the franchise admirably. Since Game 1 he’s struggled in crunch time, but he’s had All-Defensive First-Team member Tony Allen all over him and one of the best defensive teams as a whole doing a great job on him late in games. He’s just missed shots, and some free throws, too, which is surprising, but likely a result of fatigue after going so hard all game. I’ve always been Russell Westbrook-backer. To me the guy’s a bullet train and OKC dearly misses his ballhandling and how he runs that offense. Not to mention, he would take Allen off Durant’s case. The Thunder will be back.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: It has probably made everyone appreciate Russell Westbrook more. After all the talk in previous years, especially in the playoffs, of being the guy getting in Kevin Durant’s way, now there is proof of what happens when Westbrook really gets out of the way. But the opinion has not changed on Durant. He deserves every positive comment, still.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Nope. Durant’s a great player, but nobody can carry a team against a great defense by himself. Westbrook, though he makes some questionable decisions at times, is a huge part of what the Thunder do offensively. And though he’s not the best defender in the world, he’s disruptive (and a lot better than Reggie Jackson) on that end. Durant played 84 percent of his minutes with Westbrook in the regular season, so this is uncharted territory. And it obviously should be no surprise that they’re struggling to score against the Grizzlies, the best defensive team in the Western Conference.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: There is nothing to change. All we have is confirmation of Thunder’s fans greatest fear, that if one of their superstars goes down the season comes to an end sooner than expected. Durant is still a spectacular player. But the responsibilities without Westbrook around to help do the heavy lifting increase dramatically. Like roughly 28 other teams in the league, the Thunder cannot afford to lose one of their two best players and maintain the same level of play. If anything, I think Westbrook ends up being the beneficiary (strange as it sounds) of his own misfortune with the knee injury. The Thunder are a really good team without him, but not a team capable of finding its way to the championship round. That speaks volumes about his importance to the franchise.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com: The loss of Westbrook hasn’t affected my opinion of him or KD — I always felt the two needed each other and were each others best chance to win a title. If anything I think Westbrook being out has sort of exposed Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin, the two guys who seemed most likely to pick up the scoring slack while Westbrook was gone. Instead, each player’s scoring numbers have stayed flat, which has been disappointing.

Philipp Dornhegge, NBA.com/germany: Not really, no. To me the Thunder always were a two-trick pony, with a bunch of solid-but-not-great role players. Durant and Westbrook both are vital parts of what OKC does and an injury to either one of them was bound to be back-breaking. Westbrook can be a headcase, but that doesn’t take anything away from his talent. And they simply have nobody to replace him. Not after James Harden left. If anything, I was surprised by how great Durant has been as a playmaker rather than the pure scorer that he usually is. He has expanded his game on the fly. Let’s hope he maintains that standard beyond these playoffs. [Philipp Dornhegge is an editor for NBA Deutschland (nba.com/germany)]

Adriano Albuquerque, NBA.com/brasil: Not really. I left the “Russell Westbrook is bad for the Thunder” bandwagon long ago, during the lockout-shortened season. My opinion remains that Westbrook and Durant make a powerful combo, and that the Thunder, when all healthy, are one of the top three teams in the West (if not the entire league). What’s been made even more clear since Westbrook’s injury, though, is they still need more offense from Ibaka and from the bench. Durant is good enough to beat most teams by himself, but even he needs some help against the league’s top defenses. [Adriano Albuquerque is a blogger for NBA Brasil (nba.com/brasil)]

56 Comments

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  2. Lawrence says:

    OKC needs to get rid of Perkins and Thabeet. They just need someone better than them. Perkins is horrible at shooting, he’s slow, and got attitude problem that he always gets a tech foul. Ibaka is a good PF and Collison is great back up for Ibaka, They just need another decent PF to back up the team. Sefolosha, Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and another center/PF or Martin should do the job, but when playing against someone like Miami, OKC needs to improve their shooting performance from the paint. It was unfortunate that they lost Westbrook during playoffs, but I agree with people that wishes Harden is back. But if OKC wants to win next year, they definitely must get rid of Perkins.

  3. fan28 says:

    This shows how Durant is just like every other superstar who has to carry a team. Not in LeBrons territory. He shot 42% for the series. That’s worse than Kobe, who everybody swears is a ball hog. double standard. People see what they want to.

  4. Baba says:

    By trading James Harden we saw the true color of OKC team (weak team) KD & RW should have fought for him to stay not focusing on their contracts. They have got the money but they will not get the Title if that something they want like Labron James.
    Houston will rebuild around James Hardon and he might get a Title before OKC

    • OKCKD35 says:

      Harden walked away from the offer he received from OKC, they had no choice but to trade him this year, or let him walk for nothing next year.

  5. Ben says:

    Westbrook got injured. 50% of OKC quality went down injured, they never had a chance after that.

    And despite all the hype and marketing from the NBA how point guard is the most important position, it’s interesting that a team with a PF and C – Memphis Grizzlies – are trashing everyone and everything in their path. Spurs/Warriors wont have much of a chance against Randolph and Gasol.

    It’s a big mans game, always was, always will be. While point guards may win MVP awards, power forwards and centers win basketball games.

    • Bryan says:

      ha ha ha, seriously man?????? the grizzlies could barely beat the thunder who were missing a large part of their offensive game…. the Spurs and Warriors are two of the best offensive teams in the league and their rosters seem pretty complete. If parker or curry were driving to the inside aggressively, randolph and gasol would stand no chance. It would be al ot of big man foul troubles or wide open three’s, YOU CHOOSE. BTW…….have you seen what the spurs have done to the big men of the warriors?? Put them in foul trouble, AND they have shut down the “splash brothers.” If the grizzlies defense is limited (WHICH IT WOULD BE WHEN THEIR BIGS ARE IN FOUL TROUBLE), then the warriors or spurs would have a clear shot at the victory. think for a minute, less defense means more shots going in your basket, and with major offensive teams like the spurs/warriors spreading the defense……… ALL SPURS AGAINST HEAT!!!!!!!!!!

  6. OC says:

    Thunder didn’t have Westbrook, that’s why they lost.

  7. isaac says:

    always been a Westbrook backer? you blog writers used to absolutely crucify the dude! good to see we have an understanding of just how dang good the guy really is

  8. JJP says:

    Maybe fifth game?

  9. JJP says:

    The 3rd and 2nd smallest market teams are playing tonight in OKC!

  10. NBALogics says:

    It’s like so many of you said already not only does this make Westbrook look good it makes Harden look even better. Investing in Perkins and Ibaka was a bad investment. They played good during the regular season but you can never judge a team based off the regular season.

  11. terry hause says:

    Perkins was a good idea that didn’t pan out. As far as I”m concerned, we can keep KD, RW, SI, and Collison and dump the rest. If anything has shown up during the playoffs, it is that you need some kind of bench. OKC has no back up center, Martin, who will be gone is the only scorer off the bench. Get some help for the stars. James doesn’t score so much, but his teammates can, which allow him to play his best game.

  12. ThunderUp says:

    See. What do you guys think of WESTBROOK now? Learn to spell his name PROPERLY. OKC just isn’t the same without him Yes, KD gets the ball more now that he is gone. But he brings the intensity to the team. He is their second best scorer and that’s what they need right now. Another player that can put points on the scoreboard and make it look easy. With K-Mart struggling, Westbrook is what OKC needs

  13. NuffSaid says:

    OKC is done. nuff said. cheer them all the way. its pointless anyway.

  14. Future says:

    OKC should amnesty Perkins, Let martin walk and attempt to sign Pekovic in free Agency with the spare money.
    Next Years Lineup: pg-westbrook sg-sefalosha sf-durant pf-ibaka c-pekovic Bench: reggie jackson jeremy lamb perry Jones Nick Collison Deandre Liggins Hasheem Thabeet Daniel Orton

  15. Kimmy says:

    Noboby who commented is a true OKC fan. We can do it!!! Go OKC!!!!!!

    • JJP says:

      With Westbrook and Harden, yes! Three major contributors, good bench and eight man rotation is a must….

  16. Gillsy says:

    The biggest thing I have noticed is that OKC are not the championship team that everyone makes them out to be. Ok they have KD, RW and Serge who provides great D and is starting to develop a few scoring shots. However, since getting rid of Harden they look extremely thin. Martin can’t step up and once again they have looked to Fisher to help, which is a bad sign. As people said last year. You would have been better giving Harden a good deal and offloaded Perkin’s contract. They would now be in better shape without Russel. I know it’s a different situation but the Warrior’s loose their most constant player for a considerable number of games and are still battling for the western finals. Depth is the problem, I hope they can use their draft picks to get someone good but even then you still have to wait for them to develop.

  17. jah217 says:

    come on okc i still have faith in yous really gutted about russell being out … you guys can do it thunder up !!

  18. JimD54 says:

    The Thunder should have never traded Jame Harden…..Period

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I say the Thunder should go after Josh Smith. Then, James Harden will be a mere memory. Smith is also a lethal southpaw like Harden.

  19. OKC says:

    OKC will win the series. Think about it,2 games in OKC,1 in menphis (or flopphis.)

    • JJP says:

      It will be done in 6 games! It will be awhile before OKC wins their first championship.

    • Hardwood says:

      I like your attitude!!!

      OKC big men are struggling but they are having to battle All Star centers. WB is not there to put up the shots for them to get if he misses. He is a key piece to the offense and is out.

      Instead of knocking the guys on the court, they should consider knocking the guys riding the pine. OKC has the tallest player in the league and he is as useful as a wet towel after getting out of the shower.

  20. Celtics says:

    It’s like when Celtics lost KG due to an injury in the Finals against Lakers. Those people are vital pieces when you lost one of them, you cannot play to the same level till they come back.

    Go Celtics, 2013-2014

    • StillHope says:

      They lost Kendrick Perkins in the finals vs Lakers not KG. KG was injured for 09′ playoffs. Pssh some fan you are. I don’t even like the C’s.

  21. dmh says:

    Westbrook is a legitamite allstar. Any team that loses a legit allstar is going to suffer. The big problem that I see is that the offensive games outside of Westbrook and Durant were never nurtured enough. There are no players on the thunder that can hold their own offensively in the post. Kevin Martin is a has been that can still flash up points on occasion. He is also a 2 guard which means not post LOL. So now that Westbrook is out, the points aren’t coming. Now as far as combinations, I am not 100% convinced that the combo is right together. Granted they have chemistry together. However the argument could be made that the aggressive nature of Westbrook has curtailed the development of others on the thunder. They need someone else. PJ3 perhaps?

    • OKCKD35 says:

      OKC does not need to replace their PG, Westbrook is THE BEST in the NBA at PG, however I would agree to swap out Thabo with someone who has a little more Offensive game, also wouldn’t mind running trying to get Milsap of Jefferson from Utah as a good rotational player with ibaka, collision, perkins.

      • YoYo says:

        If they can’t afford to keep Harden what in the world make you think they can get Milsap and Jeffersons, you sound dumb!!!

      • OKCKD35 says:

        you sound dumb, Harden was a max money player. He will be paid more than either milsap or Jefferson. in addition KMARt will probably walk, fisher wont be back. Drop one big man and there is the space needed.

  22. Pardon? says:

    Pardon? Each of the authors that makes a part of this panel has at one time or another dragged Westbrook over the coals because of what he takes away from Durant, (touches, leadership responsibility ect.) but here they each say their opinions haven’t been changed! Either we’ve been fed lies and Westbrook isn’t so bad after all, or people need to own up (I included) that Westbrook was far more vital, and far more more of a ‘team player’ with this OKC squad then many people thought. Hope he gets well so he and Durant can resume their place as the best 1-2 punch in the league!

  23. W/E says:

    They are done, no hope for them without Westbrook, but even then Ibaka and Perkins are absolutely useless vs good frontcourts so they still have alot to improve

    • OKCKD35 says:

      Ibaka and Perkins are there for defense. The serve their purpose within the OKC plan. Didn’t you see Perkins perimeter defense blocking z-bo’s attempt to win the game? that he was held to 8 points in game 3? Now if the officals wouldn’t call so many touch fouls maybe they could play “physical” like Memphis does every game. its funny to see Randolph slam his body repeatedly into OKC defenders with no call. but the moment OKc touches him its a foul.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Ibaka is only 23 years old. He is going to keep improving. I don’t know if he can be a major low-post scorer like Zach Randolph or Lamarcus Aldridge or those type of guys; however, Ibaka finished the series against Memphis very very well. His shooting was off at the beginning of the series, but he got back to being Serge Ibaka. He is a future All-Star. I believe he will improve and become a double-double guy. Plus, he’s the best shot blocker in the league and defended Randolph pretty well.

      Perkins, however, I admit had an atrocious postseason. He had a decent regular season but then fell apart in the playoffs.

      I’ve given this some thought and I hope the Thunder freed up cap space with moves they’ve made over the past year or so. The Thunder seriously needs to consider bringing Perkins and Sefolosha off the bench for defense responsibilities. They need to keep Kevin Martin. He can be 6th man of the year next season. They need to get Jeremy Lamb into the everyday rotation. They could’ve used his shooting in a series in which they struggled mightily in FG% against the mighty Grizzlies. Looking back, they shouldn’t have played Fisher so damn much in game 5. Fisher missed too many open looks. That was playing time that should’ve went to prospect Jeremy Lamb. I trust how Thunder manages their players, but don’t play Fisher that much.

      I believe they need to see if they can sign a free agent during the offseason. In a dreamworld, they would sign Josh Smith and Chris Paul (if possible). Paul and Smith have greater chances of winning it all with the Thunder. I envisioned a dreamworld that would have the Thunder starting 5: C Ibaka, PF Josh Smith, SF Durant, SG Westbrook, PG Paul. They would be dominant with a starting lineup like that. And then Martin being 6th man of the year off the bench. Yes, Memphis defeated OKC with their interior forces, but I wouldn’t read into that that much. I still favor (in this day and age) speed and athleticism first. If Westbrook was healthy, the Thunder would have won this series. With a starting 5 like that, the Thunder would have even more speed and athleticism to run opposing teams out of the building. They could use the extra speed/athleticism to fastbreak, get random rebounds, and penentrate relentlessly in the paint. Plus, their team defense would be #1 by far.

      Or just try to sign Al Jefferson. No more starting Kendrick Perkins. He needs to be a backup role-player.

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        If the Thunder want the superior edge in this day and age, they need to consider what they can do this offseason with quite a few elite free agents out there.

        If they want to win it all next season, they need to go “all out” right now. Because then, they will be set for multiple future Championships.

  24. roy says:

    OKC is done and is due to they let the talented and powerful team-mate Harden who is the main key of success next to KD. Thunder is absolutely not a a strong contender in the playoffs .

    • Okckd35 says:

      This playoff run has nothing to do with Harden. Yes he was a great player. But this years struggle is about RW going down. Guaranteed if RW was playing this series would not be 3-1 Memphis

      • JJP says:

        Not too much beyond KD and RW on the team. Grizzlies are deep and create matchup problems!

      • YoYo says:

        Its has everything to do with Harden, i rather keep ibaka and perkin instead of Harden…BAD MOVE!!! I would take Harden over ibaka or Perkin anyday…They choose Ibaka and now they they see why they shouldn’t…

      • JJP says:

        Definitely should kept Harden! Nate Robinson?

      • OKCKD35 says:

        how did this have anything to do with harden when OKC won 60 games without him t his year, yes having harden was a luxury. but his absence has no bearing in this playoffs as he was not a member of this team the entire year. Where OKC had NEVER played a game without Westbrook

  25. The Hammer says:

    No surprises with OKC post Harden and Maynor. OKC has good players but they wanted to be the number one seed for pride not to calculate the opposing team down the stretch. For that they ended up with Memphis which is a hard defending team that requires a good bench and role players. unfortunately OKC only have two role players in the hand on Sefoluscha and Collision. There is no way that OKC can win the championship without Russel Westbrook becuase they don’t have anyone to cover for him, this kid Jackson is good but lacks experience talent and role playing time. OKC will be there next year stronger and competent for now they’ve figured this year’s fate and they will not try to have another injury just to get wacked by the Spurs or Miami. Go Spurs.

  26. Okckd35 says:

    Some good points, some bad points. 1st off the Harden trade had to happen, got a 1 year rental on Martin and Lamb plus some draft picks. Sure we could have had Harden this year then we would have let him walk for nothing in return. Eric maynor lost his job to Reggie Jackson ( still would have preferred maynor to signing fisher) but how was OKC to forsee the injury to their star PG who had never missed a game (high school, college, and pro) to a freak accident. I may be biased but I give OKC a lot of credit. They have been right there each game competing and keeping it close. For completely changing their approach I think they have done a good job. Too bad they threw away game 4

    • YoYo says:

      Threw the game away? Cmon now they lost it lets give the grizz some credits here…

      • nbafan says:

        grizz came out of nowhere to beat OKC in these playoffs! i dont know what happens to their team as i dont follow them….but suddenly being able to beat last years final contenders….something just went 100% right for the grizz team, and it shocked okc more than they were prepared for…..thats all that happened!

  27. Game Time says:

    Durant in Cleveland mode? Pfft, Lebron at 24 had a lot less talent than what OKC has now. Thunder still have Ibaka, Martin, Thabo, Fisher and (out of the blue) Jackson. Even though those guys have not been doing what the normally do they are a lot better than, oh let’s say, Ilgauskas , Gooden, Hughes, Gibson, West and Szczerbiak.

    • Okckd35 says:

      What’s your point? LeBron plays in a MUCH weaker conference, this Grizzlies team is just as good as anybody LeBron beat to get and lose in the finals anytime he had to face the west. Just like this year, playing a terrible under .500 bucks team, and an injury ravaged bulls team. Hopefully the pacers stay healthy so they don’t get a free ride to the finals.

      • Game Time says:

        Lebron beat a championship team to get to the finals. That would be my point. I wasn’t even taking a shot at Durant, but to add even more to my point, Lebron beat out a team with Prince, Rip, Billups, Wallace, Webber, Hunter vs basically him and Big Z. If you think that is weak compared to Durant vs the Grizzlies you are just another delusional fanboy.

      • YoYo says:

        In the playoff there is no such thing as a weak conference!!! True story!!!

      • OKCKD35 says:

        there is too a thing as a weak conference in the playoffs, not like they take the 16 best teams. in that case Dallas would have played Miami this year instead of the bucks. there has not been 8 good teams in the east since ive been watching basketball.

  28. GSG says:

    OKC’s done already when Westcroc was injured. This is what they get from trading Maynor and Harden and kept Perkins who is a tragic bronson to begin with. K-mart is just an average player who, at times, doesn’t step up as much as Jackson is doing right now. And whatever happened to Collison?

    • OKC says:

      Learn to spell Westbrook.

      • GSG says:

        Learn to spell: Durant chocked! Taking jump shots is not gonna cut it in the playoffs. LeBron learned that against Dallas. Lets hope Durant learned that last night.

      • Westbruuck says:

        i think if i were playing i would’ve take it to the hole and stuffed it on gasol’s face!
        word bro!
        my boy durant, dont worry, i love you man, we all be back next year. ill carry you next time.