Are the Oklahoma City Thunder legit title contenders?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a team with little promise due to one of the most shocking offseason moves since LeBron’s infamous “Decision”. Kevin Durant leaving OKC to join the Golden State Warriors has left Russell Westbrook to lead a team with a shaky talent through a vicious Western Conference. With a star at the helms, will it be enough to make real noise and advance to the NBA Finals?

 Offseason moves:

GM of the Thunder Sam Presti has done very little this year to improve his team after losing Durant. Acquiring SG Victor Oladipo for PF Serge Ibaka was a risky move. Presti hopes Oladipo and Westbrook can form a tandem that will put pressure on every backcourt in the NBA. They also acquired stretch-four Ersan Ilyasova and draft pick Domantas Sabonis. They’ve since traded Ilyasova to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jerami Grant. 

2016-2017 Season:

In this current NBA season, the Thunder currently sit at 15-11 which is good enough for 2nd the Northwest division and 7th currently in the Western Conference. Westbrook has been on a TEAR averaging 30.5 points 10.5 rebounds and 10.6 assists in 25 games this season. Being that Oladipo is the only other player on the team averaging over 15 points per game, the Thunder offense has struggled mightily. All their advanced stats show how much they are struggling to produce efficient offense. In 26 games, they’ve only had four 20+ wins but has suffered five 20+ point losses. When it comes to offensive rating and effective field goal percentage, they are middle of the pack in the league ranked at 18th and 16th respectively.  Looking at the totality of the league, they are not Championship contenders

 Possible Trade Considerations: 

If the Thunder want to make a real run at the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy, they will need to make some moves before the trade deadline. Here are a few players that could improve the quality talent on this team: 

Rudy Gay:

Gay has made it known that he will not re-sign with the Sacramento Kings this upcoming offseason so he could come cheap on the market. Gay would immediately help as another scorer from the three position. He can create his own shot and alleviate the pressure off Westbrook in the Western Conference.

Other options:

Targeting both Denver Nuggets SF Wilson Chandler and SG Will Barton is not bad either. If somehow the Thunder could pull off a trade for both they would improve on the wings exponentially. Combined they average 30.9 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 4 assists. Both players are tough gritty players, good finishers, can score in bunches and can defend well. Unless the Thunder pull off a trade of the highest order, Head Coach Billy Donovan will have a tough time steering this team in the right direction this year. The Thunder just don’t have the talent right now to advance far in the Western Conference.


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