No team has really captured and swollen the hearts of a community and state more than the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Sure, Cleveland had LeBron James (key word being HAD), but neither the state or community loved the Cavaliers. They merely loved James.
Led by the league's youngest scoring champion ever, Kevin Durant, the Thunder went from being a complete doormat in the NBA to being a legitimate contender.
Though they don't have a true big that has any kind of experience, they moved in the right direction in the offseason, drafting and signing former Kansas big man Cole Aldrich. Aldrich could be that missing piece that pushes the Thunder over the top.
Head coach Scott Brooks has all the firepower he needs with Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. He also has an entire plethora of role players that complete every aspect of the Thunder's main four's game.
Players like Daquan Cook, Eric Maynor, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Morris Peterson all bring skills that are used to spread the floor for Durant and Westbrook to be the monster duo that they are.
After last season, however, Thunder fever has swept the entire nation, as they have become a fan favorite to watch and root for as they are the underdog to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Also, after "The Decision" made by James, Durant became a fan favorite not only for his loyalty (signing a five-year extension with the Thunder) but by announcing it via his Twitter account and completely avoiding the public eye.
Durant then led Team USA to it's first FIBA World Championship in over a decade, which not only makes him more of a fan favorite, but throws him even higher into MVP contention.
As the entire league awaits negotiations for a new CBA contract, the league has three things to look forward to this season: The Lakers' chances at a three-peat, the new-look Miami Heat, and just how loud Durant and the Thunder can roar.
Chances are there isn't a more exciting team to watch in the NBA than the Thunder, whose length, skill set and overwhelming talent is the only thing they bring to the floor. But their passion as a collective unit is what will not only lift up Oklahoma City, but the entire NBA as well.
The Thunder are flying high. The question remains if the rest of the NBA is ready for them.
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