Blogtable: Does OKC have enough time?

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


BLOGTABLE: Miami 2010 vs. Cleveland 2014 | POR, TOR or WAS? | Tick, tick, tick in OKC



VIDEO: Do the Thunder make the playoffs? The Starters can’t agree, either.

> Russell Westbrook is coming back soon. KD may not be far behind. Gut feeling: Will their returns be in time for the Thunder to make the playoffs?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Make the playoffs? I say yes. Let’s do the math: Oklahoma City won 72 percent of its games across three seasons prior to this one (166-64). So might the Thunder be able to win at a 70 percent clip over, say, their final 60? If they did, they’d pick up 42 victories. Add the five or six they should have over their first 22 games and that gets them to 47 or 48. They’ll be dealing losses head-to-head with their rivals for the West’s 8th seed, too, so those games will count double. Of course, if OKC pulls this off, it might be gassed by the playoffs, but that wasn’t the question then, was it?

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook (Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook
(Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: It’s getting tougher and tougher each day and every additional loss will mean the Thunder will have to expend more energy.  At this point, I still think they make it, just barely.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Yes. I don’t have any sound evidence to back that up, no home/road splits or back-to-back numbers. It makes sense, though. The Thunder at full strength can make up six games, the distance to catch No. 8, in five months. They won’t get to No. 1 and they may not even get home-court advantage, and then that becomes an issue for their playoff chances. But making the playoffs? As long as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook return on schedule and the first four weeks of the season don’t turn out to be the start of a season-long epidemic, yes.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: You take two of the top 10 players off a team for a month and, yeah, we can expect a drastic and perhaps sudden improvement when they finally suit up again. The West is a dangerous place to start slowly and for the most part would prove unforgiving to almost any other team … except one bringing back Westbrook and Durant. Getting a top-four spot seems next to impossible, I’ll admit. That’s a mighty steep climb in a conference with the Spurs, Warriors, Rockets, Blazers, Clippers and Grizzlies. If that’s the pecking order, that means OKC must overtake the Mavericks and Suns, and I like Durant and Westbrook in a fight for the seventh or eighth spot.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Yes, because I don’t believe the Kings can keep up a 50-win pace. The Suns and Pelicans are good, but not 50-win teams either. So there’s a playoff opening available if Durant and Westbrook stay healthy and can win 47 of their final 66 games, which is the winning percentage they had last season with Westbrook missing 36 games. It should be noted that OKC has played one of the league’s toughest schedules thus far. They’re the only team that hasn’t played an opponent that played the night before.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: They are so upside down right now in the standings, I just don’t see the return of Westbrook soon and KD a little later, will be enough to get the Thunder to the 50-win plateau it will take in the Western Conference to be in the playoff mix. There’s a ton of ground to be made up right now and if they can’t get those guys back healthy and in a groove before Christmas, it’ll be a monumental effort for them to get back into the playoff race. And I’m not dismissing the power of two superstars when healthy. But we don’t know how effective either one of them will be when they return, let alone when they’ll both actually be back and leading the Thunder charge.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: They absolutely will make the playoffs. And if they do, they’ll have an authentic chance to become the first bottom-half seed to win the championship since the No. 6 Rockets prevailed in 1994-95.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I was doing the math yesterday during the Hang Time Podcast, and they’d have to go something like 45-22 the rest of the way in order to make it to 48 wins, which was the threshold for making the playoffs in the West last season. But our podcast guest Greg Anthony had a great point: The better way to look at it is that the Thunder are currently six games back of the 8th place team, which as of today is the Clippers. And with 67 games remaining, I think a full-strength Thunder team could absolutely make up that difference the rest of the way. My only concern is that the complementary players, who have been asked to do so much in the meantime, will still have something to give.

Akshay Manwani, NBA.com/India: The sensible reasoning on the Thunder’s chances of making the playoffs appears to be slim. But I disagree. I think OKC will make it, riding on some really sensational, turbo-charged performances by Westbrook and Durant. And it’s not only emotion that dictates gut feeling, but even the numbers don’t seem to be insurmountable. Remember, last season Dallas were the No. 8 seed with a 49-33 record. That leaves OKC requiring to win 46 of their last 67 games i.e. an expected win percentage of 0.686. In their last three regular seasons, OKC has had a win percentage of 0.710 or more (and much of 2013-14 was despite Westbrook’s absence), so 0.686 shouldn’t be that difficult for the Thunder to emulate with both their All-Stars back.

Davide Chinellato, NBA.com/Italy: The Thunder need Westbrook and Durant now, at their best, to make the playoffs. Last season, Dallas finished 8th in the West with 49 Ws. OKC has three right now, so they probably need 46 more. In 67 games. They need to start amassing Ws right now, hopefully with Westbrook back starting Friday and KD well before Christmas. Maybe it’s already too late.

Aldo Avinante, NBA.com/Philippines: Yes, they are too talented together to not to make a run at the playoffs. OKC will string together a couple of win streaks throughout the season. KD and Russ are two transcendent players in one team, the Thunder will not be denied an invite in the postseason party.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA.com/Greece: Before the two superstars got injured, we would include the Thunder in the contenders list. So that means that with both of them back, OKC can go out there and get a lot of wins. Their start is awful, but they can still make it to the playoffs. If — and here comes the big “if” — they stay healthy and don’t lose time trying to find their chemistry as a team.

Marc-Oliver Robbers, NBA.com/Germany: It will be hard. If the Thunder would play in the East – no problem! But in the loaded Western Conference it will be a very, very difficult journey. On the first view it’s only five games to the 8th seed. Westbrook and Durant might be back, but they will need time to be back on their top level. It’s the first big injury of Durant and he must learn to handle with it. Westbrook knows how long it takes to get the rust off. Besides that it’s a matter of head. Russell had three bigger injuries in a short time. That won’t leave him untouched. They should try it, but don’t force it. The team is still young and they have one more shot in the next year. And in private: To win the championship they need a better bench anyway.

13 Comments

  1. jake s. says:

    I don’t know why this is even a debate anymore… They have won above an average of .750 for seasons. OKC only really needs one superstar to make it back to .600. With 2 of the NBA’s top 5… I’m gonna say they are ok. The team has statisticians to calculate risk vs. reward. This season will go down in history. It will be an inspiring montage the league shows in 30 years.

  2. HNIC says:

    NO!!!!!!!!! Now bring on the FLAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. winston says:

    Yes they will. Very hard situation but not impossible. They play very well without kd and westbrook even though there are 4-12. they almost win 5 of these 12 lost and their bench has improved alot as well. They will be more than fine and unstoppable when kd and westbrook return back.

  4. Chris Heneree says:

    The people saying that Thunder won’t make the playoffs are going to have to eat their words come next year. People seem to forget that adding two of the best basketball players on the planet make them a dire threat to any team in the league. I feel sorry for the team that has to face them in the 1st round. It’s more likely that the people saying they won’t make it in fact hope that is the case rather than actually believe it.

  5. Westbrookisback! says:

    Debbie Downers! They will make it! Watch Russell Westbrook show his fury against the Rockets and his favorite Patrick Beverly!. C’mon, let’s be real, they are better than the Golden Flake Warriors, the Flippers, Kings and Nuggets. I know they have along climb up the competitive Western Conference. But everyone admit that watching Durant and Westbrook try their hardest to climb that ladder will be exciting! Go Thunder!

  6. streetsd says:

    The west may be stronger this year but I think you put the playoff mentality into the thunder nice and early and they ease through into the post season. I can see them racking up a 0.750 < 0.800 win percentage. They are far stronger than last year.

  7. Another Cavs Fan says:

    Depends on exactly when they come back, or when at least one of them comes back,

    They have an easier schedule coming up ahead. They need to take advantage of that and get some wins.

    They can make it.

    Home court advantage, as we have seen time and again, doesn’t mean so much for the championship team.

    Last year’s Spurs would have won with or without it. The team that deserves the championship will get it regardless of what seed it gets.

  8. jOLAN says:

    They won’t make it. The West is doing even better against the east this year, making the West even harder this year then it was last year. On top of that, they still have to shake the rust off and get into season game form. So they have to be better then last year (they didn’t add anything to help their team this year), just to make it to a record that we think might be good enough to get them into the playoffs. Ian Thomsen is an idiot if the thinks they are even still contenders! IF they do some how make it to the playoffs, their team is going to be to tired to do anything in the playoffs, especially without any home court advantage! He can’t make a bold statement like he did without anything to back it up.

    • Jared says:

      I’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t know much about basketball. They added 2 players that make their team better. Difficult task, but not impossible. Go read before you try and make a point again. #BballKnowledge. Which you have none of…

      • DoCJ says:

        to tired, you mean like how the spurs were supposed to be to tired.
        these guys are young okc will get there

      • Average Joe says:

        If they are to have a 49 win season, they must play Durant and Westbrook about 38+ minutes per game. Many times, the playing time for these two stars would exceed 40 minutes. If they do manage to squeak it out into the playoffs, it’s a good guess that KD and RW would not be able to recover the energy they spent just to get there in the first place. So on the point, I think he’s spot on. BTW I think they’ll make it to the postseason, but would be too banged up to make any significant move for the West championship.

  9. ancientsrs says:

    The threshold for the playoffs last season was 49 wins, the total wins the Mavericks had I believe. The suns had 48 wins and did not make it and this year it seems the west is far stronger than last year. The thunder won’t make it to the playoffs this year.

    • melvin mcclain says:

      they will make it. the past few years OKC has been 1 or 2 seed in the west. they will make it back to the playoffs. the west is strong but some teams will fall when these 2 superstars are back on the court. # team OKC