Derek Fisher the Key to Thunder Winning the Conference Finals

Lance SmithCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 17:  Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Staples Center on January 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Roughly an hour ago, ESPN announced that five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher has signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the rest of this year, for roughly $1 million and a player option for next year worth $3.4 million. This is after he was bought out by the Rockets after being traded from the Lakers

The Oklahoma City Thunder made out on the deal for a number of reason. For one, their backup point guard is rookie Reggie Jackson. He's done pretty well for them, but he's not the proven table setter they need looking ahead to the playoffs. Derek Fisher is just about right for a backup point guard. He's consistent, he plays smart, and he still has a good enough overall game to produce at an adequate level with limited minutes.

The Thunder, as of now, are the favorites to come out of the Western Conference, but their lack of championship experience looms large. Derek Fisher, though, has as much experience as anybody. Not only has he been a part of big moments, but he's produced in them too, as he's one of the best three point shooters in the history of the NBA Finals.

The Lakers, on the other hand, have now acquired Ramon Sessions, who many believe will push them past the Spurs as the second-best team in the NBA. I am one of those believers, and I am confident that if the Lakers keep it together, they will be the Thunder's test in the Western Conference. 

The Lakers are definitely capable of winning that series. I would take the Thunder in six games, personally, but I can easily see the Lakers knocking them out. Either way, the Thunder will have to bring all they've got.

The team definitely just got a little bit better by bringing in Derek Fisher, but what he will mean in that series is more valuable than anything he can do on paper. Derek Fisher knows the Lakers. They may have a new coach, but he's still been in Mike Brown's system for months. And if anybody knows how to stop Kobe, Pau Gasol, Bynum, and the Lakers as a whole, it's Derek Fisher.

Are the Thunder now a lock to make it to the Finals? Not even close. But they just got one step closer.