Oklahoma City Thunder's Strengths vs. Weaknesses: NBA Playoff Predictions

Angelique Christina Contributor IIIMarch 22, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 23:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots a free throw while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 23, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As the Playoffs quickly approach, there is no time like the present to take the proverbial "time-out" to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Oklahoma City Thunder. As they currently sit in first place in the Western Conference, the talented team has an excellent chance at taking home the Championship trophy this year, but there are a few things that could trip them up. Let's take a look at their strengths and weaknesses heading into the Playoffs. 

Strength: Team Defense

With all of their starters healthy and on the floor, the Thunder are a solid defensive team. Ranked 15th overall defensively, the team has what it takes to get the job done as a whole. 


Weakness: 1-on-1 Defense

The old adage about offense selling tickets and defense winning games is certainly applicable in this case. While the Thunder are strong defensively with their starters on the floor, uncertainty sets in, with their bench and their 1-on-1 game leaving them with shaky statistics and allowing the other teams 100- plus points in a game. 


Strength: Offensive Scoring Ability

The dynamic of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden is seemingly unstoppable on the offensive end of the court. Averaging 115 points per 100 possessions with the three starters on the floor, the Thunder have become a worthy adversary to any team worth its defensive salt. 

DALLAS, TX - MAY 25:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a shot against Brendan Haywood #33 of the Dallas Mavericks in the second half in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlin
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


Weakness: Low Post Scoring 

While the Thunder have the offensive strength of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, on the flipside, they are weak in the low post. With Perkins averaging only 4.3 points per game and Ibaka averaging 8.8 points per game, the big men must step up offensively going into the Playoffs to compete with the stronger teams. 


Strength: Homecourt Advantage

If the season were to end today, the Thunder would have the homecourt advantage in the Western Conference. With this same season-ending prediction thought process in mind, they would likely face Houston in the first round and then either the Grizzlies or the Clippers in the second round. The homecourt advantage would undoubtedly give the Thunder the slight upperhand that they would need to face their predicted Eastern Conference opponent, the Miami Heat, in the Finals. 


Weakness: Turnovers

With an average of 16.3 turnovers per game, the Thunder simply cannot continue to turnover the ball at such a high rate and expect to win against defensively strong teams in the Playoffs. They are as well-known for their aggressiveness as they are for their questionable decision-making at times. This is a trend that must change prior to entering the Playoffs. 

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 23:  (R-L) Kevin Durant #35, Kendrick Perkins #5, Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder react in the second quarter while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playof
Christian Petersen/Getty Images


Strength: Free-throw Shooting 

Free-throws can win or lose games and thankfully for the Thunder, free-throws are a strong point. In the March 21st game versus the Clippers, the Thunder were 95 percent from the line. This is an outstanding average that will give them an advantage in the Playoffs. 


Strength: Transition Game

One of the Thunder's greatest strengths is their transition game. Being the second-best fastbreak team in the NBA after the Heat, the Thunder are virtually unstoppable in this aspect of the game.