Losing Kevin Durant or another of their key pieces is just one of the potential disasters that could derail the Thunder’s so-far stellar season. Others are poor play from with the team's supporting cast and a potential playoff team boasting a lineup too tough for any team to overcome.
Losing to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals for a second straight postseason would be great compared to these nightmare scenarios.
This is the obvious one on the list. Losing Kevin Durant at all would significantly hamper this team and make winning difficult against even the lowest of its potential playoff opponents.
The only player in the league who adds more wins to his team’s total is LeBron James. Durant’s ability to score takes pressure and defensive attention off his teammates while also making it incredibly difficult to defend the Thunder as a whole.
Losing him is a deal-breaker.
One could make the case that losing Russell Westbrook could actually hurt the Oklahoma City Thunder even more than losing Kevin Durant. While Durant is obviously the better individual player, Westbrook has just as big an effect on the team’s performance.
Not only should his playmaking and assists be factored into the equation, but his ability to get his own shot any time he wants is also extremely valuable. When it comes to being undefendable, Westbrook is right up there with Durant thanks to his extreme athleticism at the point guard position.
When you have so much of your team’s offense tied up in a few players like the Oklahoma City Thunder, any offense you can get outside them is integral to winning basketball games. That is why Kevin Martin’s offense is so important for this team.
Martin has cooled somewhat, averaging just 14.3 points per game off the bench. However, that average is sufficient for the team to win. He is still shooting 44.7 percent from the field, which is far from cold. If he were to drop into the single digits in points per game come playoff time, it would make things extremely difficult for the Thunder.
When it comes to playoff time, matchups reign supreme.
While the Oklahoma City Thunder match up well with most of the Western Conference, having to play a string of tough teams in a row could wear them down to the point where they would be unable to go as far as they’d like.
Getting a lower-seeded opponent that they match up well against would be ideal for the Thunder, especially considering that teams like San Antonio, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Miami will likely be waiting for them later on. Having to play a team like the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets or Memphis Grizzlies early could be detrimental enough to ruin the Thunder’s playoff hopes.
Please do not misunderstand me. Derek Fisher is an extremely valuable bench player who adds immeasurable leadership and experience to the locker room. However, it is no secret that Thunder coach Scott Brooks has played him far too much in the past.
Fisher is 38 years old and is a big defensive liability at this point in his career. When he is not hitting shots, he is basically dead weight that the rest of the team has to carry.
He does not need to be on the court for his tremendous character to have an effect. If Brooks fails to realize this, it could kill the Thunder in key playoff situations against athletic teams.