5 Reasons Kevin Durant and OKC Are Better Than Anything the East Can Offer
The combination of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden with the solid stable of young depth around them will be too much for whoever the Thunder may face in a potential NBA Finals matchup.
The Thunder are too young, too explosive and too multifaceted for any of the Eastern teams. You can count on them to win a title if they can make it out of an ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Here are five reasons why.
The talented young foursome of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka has played in exactly 24 playoff games before Tuesday night's Game 2 against Dallas. The Thunder's record in those games is 12-12.
That's not bad at all when you consider that the oldest of those four players is only 23 years old and still a few years away from his prime. This group has the benefit of young legs with the experience that many NBA veterans don't come to have.
That will pay off against Eastern teams that have had the same amount or less playoff success.
The Best Shot Blocker in the Game
In Game 1 of the current Dallas-Oklahoma City series, Serge Ibaka blocked an impressive five shots.
While blocks tend to be overrated as a measure of defensive acumen, they are valuable in that each is a negation of potential points for the opponent. In that game, the Mavericks could have scored 10 more points if it weren't for Ibaka's blocks.
That's an astounding effect on a game, and it gets even more impressive when you consider that Ibaka has even had double-digit blocks a few times this season.
If Ibaka can continue to block shots like this, few teams, especially Eastern teams, will have much hope of consistently scoring at the rim.
The Best Sixth Man in the Game
James Harden is indisputably the best sixth man in the game of basketball this season.
The third-year player is averaging 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists on 49 percent field goal shooting off the bench this season. Those are ridiculous for a non-starter in this league, especially of one who is merely a third-year player.
Harden does get starter's minutes. Fine. But so do other bench players in the league, and none of them have Harden-like numbers.
The Most Dynamic Point Guard in the Game
The biggest reason that Eastern conference opponents should fear this Thunder team more this year than in years past is because of the improvement of Russell Westbrook.
Last year's postseason brought tons of criticism on the young point guard, who responded by working his butt off in the offseason and vastly improving his mid-range jumpshot.
The result has been that Westbrook is now one of the most dynamic players in the game, who can still fly to the hoop but can now also hit the 19-footer teams used to dare him to take.
In Game 1 against Dallas, Westbrook scored 28 points on 57 percent shooting with five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Eastern Conference opponents, and even Western conference ones, should pray that type of play doesn't continue.
The Most Talented Scorer in the Game
It is blatantly obvious now that Kevin Durant is the most well-rounded, most talented scorer in the game. This season, he has averaged 28 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent shooting from three-point range. That first percentage is a career-high.
Granted, Durant did struggle in Game 1 against Dallas on Saturday, shooting 10-for-27. However, he hit the shot that counts. While it was lucky, like many said, the fact that Durant can even get that shot off shows how talented he is.
A 20-footer over two defenders, both of which are 6'7" or taller? That's impressive to even put the touch on it that Durant did. His length and frame allow him to make shots both at the basket and from the outside that most guys can't even get off.
He's the best scorer in the league and the biggest reason why no Eastern Conference team can handle the Oklahoma City Thunder in an NBA Finals matchup.