Oklahoma City Thunder 2016-17 Season Preview.
By: Joey Mogauro
It was like the Oklahoma City Thunder had lost before the season even started. The Thunder had just blown a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals to none other than the Golden State Warriors and they knew from that point on something worse could happen months after. Their star Kevin Durant was going to be a free agent which would elect him to sign with any time he wants. The Thunder of course did everything in their power to keep the Franchise star but it wasn’t enough. Kevin a Durant elected to leave Oklahoma City and sign with not only the team that beat him last season but the most dominant team in all of basketball, the Golden State Warriors.
It was a slap in the face for the Oklahoma City community but of course did light some fire for the guy who had to take over this team on his own, Russell Westbrook. Everyone knows how dominant Westbrook was having to share the ball with arguably the best player in the NBA Kevin Durant and now with KD leaving, the ball is all his. When KD left for Golden State, it was pretty much an obvious choice to everybody that Russell Westbrook would take home the hardware and win the MVP award. And he did just that. The Oklahoma City Thunder did have some ups and downs outside of just Russell Westbrook though through the 2016 season. Having to deal with an unfortunate injuries in a key guys such as Andre Roberson who was clearly missed on the defensive side of the ball having to deal with knee soreness from time to time and Enes Kanter who had to receive arm surgery. Having to lose a guy average 13 PPG for quite some time without a doubt hurt this organization this season. Some positives though were acquiring a stud defensive talent in Taj Gibson and a sharp three point shooter in Doug Mcdermott who upgraded the Thunder bench without a doubt. Getting Enes Kanter back, especially with those new acquisitions were key for the Thunder, especially before the playoffs started.
After losing one of the best players in the NBA, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder sure did prove millions wrong as they ended up finishing in just sixth place. But, falling in sixth place meant the Thunder had to meet the red hot Houston Rockets which featured the man who finished in second place behind Westbrook in the MVP race who arguably had his best season of his career, in James Harden. The odds were in the Rockets favor to take the series from the Thunder and they did just that, winning the series 4 games to one. It was a very unfortunate start of the season for the Oklahoma City Thunder but I sure do believe there were more ups than downs and that the Oklahoma City Thunder will only go up from here, that starting this summer.
The Oklahoma City Thunder front office sure does know that Russell Westbrook wants to win and he wants to win now and has made it very clear that he would love to remain with the Thunder for the rest of his career but clearly this isn’t the team he can win with. If they want Westbrook to re-sign long term this summer, it’s time to get him some legitimate help and I sure do believe the front office will do just that. So, expect the Thunders front office along with coach Billy Donovan to keep busy this summer and focus on building a championship caliber team.