Even though Kevin Durant has been in and out of the Oklahoma City Thunder lineup, the team has finally started looking like a serious playoff squad. Oklahoma City is already sitting at the eighth place in the Western Conference and if they continue to play the same way, they can improve their position a lot more. The secret behind the Thunder being so good without Durant on the court is the form of Russell Westbrook. The electrifying point-guard is having a terrific season and he is the only guy in the league that has posted five games with at least 30 points and 10 assists.
Furthermore, it’s not the play of Westbrook that hints how good OKC can become until the end of the regular season – the new players on the roster, and those who are gone too, will surely help the Thunder down the stretch. Oklahoma City released Kendrick Perkins, who was just an absolute zero on offense, and replaced him with a far more effective big man – Enes Kanter. Furthermore, Reggie Jackson was traded and the situation in the locker should drastically improve in his absence.
“We felt like everybody wanted to be here except for one guy,” Durant stated in an interview. The fact that Jackson is now playing for the Pistons is what we call addition by subtraction for the Thunder. With Reggie Jackson and Kendrick Perkins gone, OKC cleared their roster from a guy that was a distraction and another one that could just be a factor on the defensive end. Furthermore, it looks like the Thunder also won’t have a lot of competition for the eighth place in the West, as the Phoenix Suns lost two of their best players on trade deadline day, while the New Orleans Pelicans have a lot of problems with injured players.
The Thunder will play in this season’s playoffs for sure, but the interesting thing is where exactly will the team finish in the regular season. They have almost no competition for eighth seed, but there are still enough games left on the calendar for Durant, Westbrook and company to climb up the standings. Be sure for one thing though – epic battles will happen when the playoffs come.