Besides the fact that there might not be a season next year, there are quite a few reasons why the OKC Thunder simply aren't built for a title. Many people argue that the Thunder are one of the most talented teams in the NBA, and they'd be right. However, talent doesn't necessarily translate into rings.
For starters, the Thunder are inexperienced, everyone agrees on that much. Their projected starting lineup next season features two 21-year-olds, two 22-year-olds, and a 26-year-old. They acquired pieces through the draft and built a solid roster, but they are still young.
They gained valuable playoff experience last season, but when Russell Westbrook hogs the ball at the end of the game, there isn't a viable veteran presence in the locker room to set him straight.
The Thunder looked flustered at times throughout the playoffs and were easily taken care of by the Mavericks. The Thunder should have won more than one game in that series. In the playoffs, the Thunder were 6-3 at home, but only 3-5 on the road. You could clearly see the struggles of this young team on the road.
Their experience isn't the only factor.
The Thunder acquired talented players through the draft. The problem with using only the draft to acquire talent is the pieces don't always fit together. In the draft you have to take the best overall player; it's usually not about complementing other players unless you're lucky. Some teams draft for position, but it usually doesn't happen.
First of all, the Thunder have an alpha dog problem, and I think it's becoming clear to everyone. Russell Westbrook is good enough to be the guy, and he knows it. On this team, though, he has to be the second option. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that yet.
The biggest issue of all when it comes to the Thunder is the fact that their offense is extremely one dimensional. They drive and kick. That's pretty much it. They have no one that can score down low.
Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka are both talented young bigs, but neither is capable of consistently scoring using moves. This makes OKC extremely reliant on their shooters. Every elite team has a good big man. It's extremely difficult to win a championship without one in today's game.
In general, teams that don't use a scoring point guard are more successful than ones that do. Of course, there are teams like the Bulls and Thunder, but looking at the last 20 years, only two point guards have been the second option on a championship team. Those two are Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups, neither of whom are regarded as elite scorers.
Billups or Parker couldn't even come close to Westbrook's 22 points per game this season. Think about that. If the Thunder were to win a championship this season, it would be the first time in over 20 years the team's starting point guard averaged over 19 points per game, and Westbrook averaged 22.
Can the Thunder win it all next year?
Time has shown us that teams with elite scoring point guards just don't win titles. Especially when your best low post scorer is a 22-year-old Serge Ibaka.
The Thunder are a sexy team, no doubt. They are gushing with talent, and they have done an excellent job of drafting players over the years, but this team is not built to win a championship.
Between their lack of experience, the Durant-Westbrook power struggle, using a scoring point guard, and having no offensive low post presence, the Thunder are not ready to win a championship. They may be the future of the Western Conference, but for now at least, I see them sitting at fourth.
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