Top Eight Seed In NBA History? It's Not the Oklahoma City Thunder

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IMay 3, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 27:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder moves the ball while taking on the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Oklahoma City Thunder gave a valiant effort in their first round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, and their performance has some wondering where the young Thunder rank amongst the NBA's greatest No. 8 seeds.

Don't rack your brain too much.

While the Thunder may have inspired some to include them among the ranks of the league's greatest underdogs; it simply doesn't hold up under any amount of scrutiny.

To be considered in a historical context, the most important thing would probably be creating an actual upset in the first round. 

While the Thunder were able to capture two games from the defending champions, they ultimately fell short of their goal.

The Golden State Warriors of 2007 stand as the greatest No. 8 seed in recent history.

Their upset over the top seeded Dallas Mavericks will forever stand as a testament to the merits of the underdog.

The Mavericks had competed in the Finals the previous year, and most observers fully expected them to return in '07.  

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But Dallas ran into a Warriors' team that had dominated their regular season series, and would carry that into the postseason.

That nugget of information may be more important than you think, because conversely, the Thunder were only able to take one of four games from the Lakers in their regular season series.

You can't always use this formula to determine the postseason fate of a team.

However, when there is an assumed disparity in talent level between those teams, this is often a decent indicator.

Even though the '07 Mavericks were a better team than Golden State, the Warriors dominated individual match ups in both the regular and the postseason series.

Oklahoma City held no such dynamic match up advantage over the Lakers, and outside of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, were dominated individually across the board.

To be fair, it's hard to even include the Thunder among the greatest No. 8 seeds who failed to advance, because the Atlanta Hawks of 2008 could lay claim to that particular title.

The Hawks pushed the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics to seven games before ultimately falling, but their performance was still considered one of history's best, as it was so unexpected.

The series seemed a done deal after the Celtics jumped out to a two game lead, but the Hawks were able to hold serve on their home court, and eventually push the series to seven games.

The Hawks were motivated by their loss to the Celtics and have managed to reach the postseason each of the following years, advancing past the first round on both occasions.

Maybe OKC can find similar inspiration from their loss against the Lakers, and can use the effort as a springboard for future playoff endeavours.

The Thunder may have touched the entire state of Oklahoma with their spirited effort as a No. 8 seed, but their performance can hardly be considered in a historical context.

Oklahoma City played with pride and passion, but in order to have your name mentioned with the NBA's greatest underdogs, you have to do more than just compete, as the Golden State Warriors of 2007 demonstrated.

To be considered among the greatest No. 8 seeds in NBA history, a team has to advance past the first round.

With the Thunder failing in that task, they will likely only be remembered as another postseason participant.

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