The trade deadline has come and gone. Oklahoma City remains unchanged.
While many will be wondering why General Manager Sam Presti didn't take a shot at a big name that can "help the Thunder in the playoffs," or "make that final push," he didn't need to.
Think back to the beginning of the season, Oklahoma City was projected to be a middle of the pack team in the West. Most "experts" said that a 30 win season would be a win, and everything else is gravy. Guess what? Oklahoma City is currently sitting on win number 31 and fans are already excited about the playoffs.
So, wouldn't that mean that the Thunder would want to make a trade to solidify that playoff bid? In a word, no.
The main reason for the dramatic improvement over last season is the growth of the Thunder's younger players and the defense of coach Scott Brook's system.
If the Thunder grabbed Amar'e Stoudemire or Brendan Haywood, how would Serge Ibaka grow? The emergence of Ibaka has been one of the pleasant surprises this season. Many believed that Ibaka would spend a year in Tulsa, OKC's NBA D-League affiliate, and hopefully contribute next year. Well, he is already impacting this team. He battles on defense, and is quickly becoming the team's enforcer.
What about an upgrade at power forward? Yes, everyone and their dog has been critical of Jeff Green (myself included). Green is playing out of position, and we all know it. However, he is proving himself to be capable of defending so-called "big named fours." If you had the pleasure of watching Oklahoma City's win over Dallas on Feb. 16, you saw Green stifle one of the best fours in the league, Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki has dominated Green in the past, but Green is finally starting to figure out what being a power forward entails.
Oklahoma City needs to sit on what they have, because what they have is working. There are players who might improve OKC now, but Presti isn't building a team for this season. The Thunder are a team built for the future, and the future is coming a little faster than we all thought it would.