Two seasons ago the Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the laughing stocks in the NBA, led by a skinny 6'9" second year forward out of the University of Texas. Kevin Durant was the Thunder offense who was in serious need of a true sidekick.
Russell Westbrook was a rookie out of UCLA during that dreadful season. A super athletic guard who was nearly unstoppable in the open floor, Westbrook was viewed as that potential player while Georgetown product Jeff Green was third-option swingman to balance out the floor.
In just their second season in Oklahoma City, Durant and Westbrook led the surprising Thunder into the playoffs only to be knocked out by the soon to be back-to-back champion Los Angeles Lakers.
That appearance put all kinds of pressure on the Thunder this season to improve on their previous success.
While the entire NBA was prepared for Durant's impressive offensive arsenal, they weren't prepared for the evolution of Westbrook.
After averaging just over 16 points a game the previous season, Westbrook went to the work to expand his game. He needed a jump shot to go along with his impressive slashing skills.
Westbrook then became nearly unstoppable, turning into the second explosive scorer the Thunder needed, making the one piece the Thunder lacked was an inside presence.
Westbrook's remarkable development made Durant's original running mate Green expendable. That brought forth the midseason trade for Boston's Kendrick Perkins to give the Thunder a true big man.
Putting Perkins alongside Serge "the shot blocka" Ibaka, makes the Thunder interior formidable to even the Lakers front line.
A lineup with Westbrook, defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka, and Perkins is a long lineup with defensive principles that can out rebounded and out run almost any line up.
The Thunder also have scoring guard James Harden, consistent point guard Eric Maynor, veteran forwards Nick Collison and Nazr Muhammed, and pure shooter Daequan Cook that give head coach Scott Brooks a multitude of possible rotations.
But for the fourth-seeded Thunder to really make a run at an NBA title, it will all fall upon their two All-Stars, Durant and Westbrook.
Oklahoma City will go as far as these two young superstars carry them, which make the possibilities nearly endless. Durant and Westbrook are prepared to storm into the playoffs and make as much noise as possible.
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