Here at SB Nation Kansas City, we have decided to adopt the Oklahoma City Thunder as the NBA team we are going to keep a close eye on. People in the area have been clamoring for an NBA team since the Sprint Center was built and AIG said there would be either an NHL or NBA team as the anchor tenant. Well, that ship has sailed way, way down the river and now people want to a NBA team to follow. So, lets jump on the Thunder bandwagon.
No need to worry about money because this bandwagon is free. Now that you are on with us, it is time to get to know your new favorite team a little more. Here is what you need to know in order to root for the OKC Thunder.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook:
KD is a superstar among superstars. He takes a back seat to only one man in the association and that is LeBron James. Durant is the easiest player in the league to root for because he is soft-spoken, humble, and above all he is an elite talent. Without a shadow of a doubt, the Thunder is Durant’s team. And that brings us to the other person I mentioned above - Russell Westbrook. Over last season, Westbrook has made the jump from pretty good player to a choice point guard in the league. He has become the Robin to Durant’s Batman. To win at a high level and compete for titles no one does everything on their own. Jordon had Pippen, Shaq had Kobe, and Durant has Westbrook.
Thunder are More Than Two Players:
KD and Westbrook are truly amazing players and are special talents to watch. That is a given but what you need to know about this team is that they stretch beyond the game of its two superstars. The Thunder is built the way fans and GMs dream of a team to be built, through smart drafting, trading, and free agent signings.
Thunder GM, Sam Presti learned at the foot of Spurs’ GM R.C. Buford so it is not shocking that the Thunder followed that same mold. They made sure to draft the right player when they found themselves picking in the top five. First they landed Durant and Jeff Green in the 2007 Draft. Nest year they scooped up Westbrook with the fourth pick in the draft. Then, in 2009, they drafted James Harden who is having a break-out season and looks to be a staple on the team for years to come.
Not only have the Thunder hit on their top 5 draft picks, they have made very smart trades and signings to fill out the roster. They turned top 5 pick Jeff Green into Kendrick Perkins who is now an anchor in the middle. They identify players that other teams want to unload and that fit their system and go get them. Perfect examples of this can be seen in Eric Maynor, Daequan Cook, and Thabo Sefolosha.
Along with hitting on top picks and making good trades to fill out the roster you need to find a hidden gem in the draft. Shocker…the Thunder did that when they drafted unknown Serge Ibaka with the No. 24 pick in the first round in 2008. It would be a few years before the Congo product would make his mark felt for the Thunder but their patience has been rewarded. Now entering his third season in the NBA, Ibaka has developed into a building block, do it all player that teams lie awake at night hoping to get their hands on.
Thunder are Not a Flash in the Pan:
Do you know what the best part is about being a brand new certified Thunder fan? This team is crazy young and should be a force for many years. Do not let all that talk about the disagreement between Durant and Westbrook during a recent game shake your faith in this team. That was a situation that was overblown. Things get heated and emotions run high during something as competitive as NBA basketball. Everyone has moments where things blow up with a co-worker but that doesn’t mean you need to start shipping people out.
There is no reason that Westbrook and Durant should not be teammates for many years to come. In fact, if for some reason the close friendship that Durant and Westbrook have ever deteriorates to a point beyond repair, then the entire organization has failed. Now let me throw some numbers at you: 23, 23, 22, 27, 22, 24, and 24. Those numbers are the ages of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Daequan Cook, and Eric Maynor. The average age of those players is only 23.5. Please feel free to re-read that again.
No team’s title window lasts forever. Most of the time teams find the window has a 5-year shelf life. I am going to put the Thunder’s window at 8 years from now. As long as KD stays healthy and Westbrook does not flip out and demand a trade so he can be the man on his own team I will not back down from my 8 year window for the Thunder title hope.
If you are in need of a team to fill the void left by no "local" team in the Kansas City area you should fear not because Kevin Durant and his Thunder team are there for the taking. Trust me, there is still plenty of room on this bandwagon.