Russell Westbrook

Are the Oklahoma City Thunder a legitimate threat to win the NBA title?

Are the Oklahoma City Thunder a legitimate threat to win the NBA title?

Oklahoma City ThunderAre the Oklahoma City Thunder a legitimate threat to win the NBA title?

Before the new season started, the Oklahoma City Thunder is predicted by many to win the NBA championship. But because of early troubles like the injury of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, the Thunder will have a hard time to win it all this season. With an 18-19 win-loss record, many are saying that they will get no home court advantage as they enter the playoffs. It’s tough for them most especially because they are playing at the Western Conference.

Although they are not leading the pack at the West, they are still one of the favorites to win the title. Many believe that when playoff time arrives, the 2014 MVP and Westbrook will dominate on offense.  Just like last season, analysts do believe that Durant and Westbrook will double their production as the season progress. But what they fear about is what will happen with the Thunder if one or both of them got injured?

OKC Thunder’s offense relies heavily on Durant and Westbrook. Their dominance on the score board is in full effect this season.

Putting points on the board has always been Durant and Westbrook’s strong suit. KD is a four-time scoring champion, while Russ averaged at least 21 points per game for the past four seasons.

This year hasn’t been any different. While they are kept off the leaderboard due to a lack of games played, the efforts of Westbrook (26.2 points) and Durant (25.0 points) would rank second and fourth in scoring, respectively. Westbrook (29.59) and Durant (29.11) are also second and third in player efficiency ratings, respectively, per ESPN’s Hollinger stats.

I believe that when the season ends, the All-Star duo will be on the top 5 of this season’s scoring leaders. If you think about it, it’s really great stats for their team. But we all do know that two players alone can’t win a championship. The whole team must function and contribute so they can win it all this season.

In an article posted at NewsOK.Com, Darnell Mayberry and Anthony Slater discussed the championship chances of the Thunder this season.  One of their most interesting points is about the biggest concern regarding this team’s title hopes.

Slater said that it was the late game offensive issues that give the Thunder a big problem. Although Durant is a clutch player and a reliable shooter in the end game, he alone can’t solve this problem. Slater said that “even with Durant, too often over the past few years, the Thunder fires up low-percentage, long-range contested looks in the crucial moments.” He also added that “There’s such a little margin for error in the West. Playoff games will be tight. Either Durant’s gonna have to hit a ton of tough looks or Scott Brooks is gonna have to find a way to get OKC a few easy ones.”

But for Mayberry, it’s not the end game issues or clutch performances. For him, it’s their over reliance at their two stars.  The Thunder needs to perform as a team. They must find a way to get their other players involve especially on offense.

Which team won in the Dion Waiters, JR Smith & Iman Shumpert trade?

Which team won in the Dion Waiters, JR Smith & Iman Shumpert trade?

Dion WaitersWhich team won in the Dion Waiters, JR Smith & Iman Shumpert trade?

Before the February deadline, another blockbuster trade just happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers sent Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City Thunder and acquired Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith from the New York Knicks in a six-player trade Monday night. The Knicks acquired three players with nonguaranteed contracts in Alex Kirk and Lou Amundson from the Cavs and Lance Thomas from OKC. And as part of the deal, OKC sent their protected future first-round draft pick to the Cavs, who are sending their 2019 second-round pick to the Knicks.

The trade has serious effect for the teams involve, especially at their campaign this season. But the question is who got the best from this trade? Let’s take a deeper look.

The Cavaliers has been longing to trade their 23-year-old shooting guard in exchange of a serious defender especially at the perimeter. Waiters have been on the trade block ever since LeBron James came in. Although he is a good scorer and a reliable outside shooter, it seems like he doesn’t fit anymore with the system. So by sending him to Oklahoma, the Cavaliers got what they need in return – perimeter defender.

Iman Shumpert is the best player that the Cavs acquired from this trade. He is a great perimeter defender and when he’s on the groove, he can also do some damage on offense. Defensively, he is a big upgrade at the Cavs backcourt, which is what they really need this season.

J.R. Smith can also become a big factor off the bench. If he can quickly accept and adapt the new role that the team will give him, he can become a great asset.

The Cavs clearly got what they want and because of that, they are a winner of this trade.

The Knicks are trying to rebuild their team and they started it by creating more salary cap space for next season. As they trade away some of their overpaid players, it creates more moving space for Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher to acquire new faces who can complement Carmelo Anthony. By acquiring nonguaranteed contracts, it gave them all the room they need to rebuild for next season.

The Knicks also got what they want and they are a winner of this trade too.

The Thunder is reportedly trying hard to acquire a quality player that can complement their main guns – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Although Reggie Jackson is playing well this season, he will become a free agent in the offseason. Waiters can definitely give the team all the scoring they need and they want at their backcourt. Waiters can also release a lot of pressure from Westbrook in terms of play making and ball handling. So if ever they lose Jackson in the free agency, they still got another guy to count on. Who knows, he might be the guy that the team needs to finally win a championship this season.

By getting what they badly need, OKC is a winner of this trade too.

All teams involve are winners of this trade. How about you? What do you think?

SOURCES: Oklahoma City Thunder Eyeing Denver Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler

SOURCES: Oklahoma City Thunder Eyeing Denver Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler

Oklahoma City ThunderOklahoma City Thunder Eyeing Denver Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler

The Oklahoma City Thunder is one of the strongest contenders for this season’s NBA championship title. For the past four seasons, they never failed to advance at the semi-finals round. With the healthy Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they are projected to enter the playoffs this year. The question is, can they now win their very first championship ring?

For the past four years or seasons, the Thunder seems like one step away from winning the Finals. With the duo of Durant and Westbrook alongside the ultimate defensive skills of Serge Ibaka, they always end up at the top of Western Conference. Unfortunately, they always fell short and it seems like they need to do something at their roster.

For many NBA analysts and experts, they feel like that the Thunder needs another go to guy in terms of offense. They need another scorer to help them achieve their ultimate goal this season. There are rumors going around that the OKC are keeping their eye on Denver Nuggets combo forward Wilson Chandler.

According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

Teams continue to look at Denver as an appealing trade partner. While the Cavs have been trying to extract Timofey Mozgov, league sources say the Thunder have inquired about the availability of Wilson Chandler.

It makes sense that the Thunder will try to acquire Chandler from Denver. The 27-year-old player from DePaul would be an interesting fit at their roster. As a flexible forward, Chandler could play behind Kevin Durant giving the 2014 MVP quality time to rest without sacrificing much on offense. With his great shooting skills, he can stretch the floor giving room for Westbrook to operate inside the lane.

Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti is reportedly very much willing to take in Chandler before the trade deadline. Chandler could give his team a great depth and added wing talent outside of Durant.

Early this season, Chandler is averaging 14.3 points, 1.3 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game. He is shooting around 42 percent on the field and 36 percent from the three. He can play the small and power forward on small ball lineups that are somewhat giving the Thunder a great edge on scoring. Aside from the great stats, he is also a versatile player and a lockdown defender. He doesn’t demand the ball that much making him a low maintenance teammate for Westbrook and Durant.

For the trade to happen, the Thunder must send some of their assets to Denver.  According to some analysts, OKC could send a package that centers around the expiring contract of Kendrick Perkins, a second round pick and a young player that can be Jeremy Lamb or Andre Roberson.

If the Thunder can get Chandler out of Denver, it will be one of their greatest addition or acquisition for the team. Chandler, who is a 6 foot 8 tall, weighing in 225 lbs athlete, could provide head coach Scott Brooks all the versatility and offensive firepower he needs with his team.

Are the Dallas Mavericks Legitimate NBA Title Contenders with Rajon Rondo?

Are the Dallas Mavericks Legitimate NBA Title Contenders with Rajon Rondo?

Rajon RondoAre the Dallas Mavericks Legitimate NBA Title Contenders with Rajon Rondo?

The Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics just completed a blockbuster trade. The Celtics sent Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell to the Mavs in exchange of Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, a protected first-round pick, a second-round pick and a $12.9 million trade exception. Technically, the Mavs got the upper hand of this trade because of their Rondo acquisition. The big question now is, did this trade made the Mavericks legitimate NBA title contenders?

Even without Rondo, the Mavericks are doing fairly well. They started the season strong and they are expected to make it at the playoff rounds. They lead the league in scoring with shooting guard Monta Ellis as the primary ball handler.  But for Mark Cuban and the rest of Mavs front office, it’s not enough to win a title, especially if you belong to the Western Conference. They believed that they need a major upgrade at point guard to contend in a conference that features several dominant players (e.g. Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry) at the position.

The arrival of Rondo in Dallas is a major upgrade at their point guard spot. Rondo, along with Ellis at the backcourt can pretty much create a duo that can compete fairly well at the Western Conference.  Ellis is a kind of guard who can give you points when you needed them the most. Rondo, on the other hand, is a pass-first point guard who lead the league in assists with 10.7 per game this season. If they can quickly build chemistry at the hardcourt, I honestly think they will belong to the top three deadliest backcourt duo this season.

Rondo And Mavs Quest To Championship

Rondo has one goal in mind upon joining the Dallas Mavericks: to win another ring. In a news conference, he stated how much he wanted to get another championship parade.

“There’s one goal that you have in mind, and I’m dying to get another ring again,” Rondo said in his introductory news conference after joining the Dallas Mavericks in a blockbuster trade. “I want another parade.”

For Mark Cuban and the rest of the Mavericks squad, it’s really a timely acquisition for them. At the same news conference, the four-time All-Star point guard says he physically feels “closer to where I used to be, if not better” after battling back from a torn ACL in his right knee. His physical improvement shows with the way he plays with this season.

The Mavericks superstar, Dirk Nowitzki is more than happy with the acquisition of Rondo. The 36-year old power forward gave the Mavs a hometown discount last offseason. This gave way to the signing of Chandler Parsons and now, the trade for Rondo. Dirk did it for just one reason, to win another championship before his retirement.

“Any time you have a chance to grab a top point guard in this league, you got to go for it,” 12-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “I think he’s a competitor, a warrior. He plays hurt. He’s a winner, so he brings a lot of great things.”

Cuban, Nowitzki and Rondo all think that they have a better chance of winning a championship this season. Personally, I think they legitimately became a strong NBA title contender with Rondo.

How about you, do you think they can win it all with Rajon Rondo?

Where will the Oklahoma City Thunder finish in the West?

Where will the Oklahoma City Thunder finish in the West?

Oklahoma City ThunderWhere will the Oklahoma City Thunder finish in the West?

As of this writing, the Oklahoma City Thunder is at the 12th spot of the Western Conference. This is somewhat an unfamiliar territory for them to start the season. Now that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are back in the rotation, we can be sure that they will move up few notches real soon.

The Thunder is one of the strongest contenders for the Western Conference championship. But with the early struggles they faced, can they still make it to the conference finals?

In an episode of ESPN First Take, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless debate where the Oklahoma City Thunder will finish in the west. Smith boldly said that he can see the Thunder finishing as one of the top 5 seeds. If Durant and Westbrook can stay healthy and injury free until the end of the season, the Thunder can surely end up as one of the top 5 Western Conference teams.

In an article by Berry Tramel for NewsOK, he predicted that the Thunder will finish fourth in the West. According to him, although they struggled a lot without their MVP, they should be in solid shape by spring. It will be just enough time for the team to bounce back and get some wins.

This season, it will be a tough road for the Thunder to at least make it at the top three.  The Western Conference is loaded with monster teams and players making it a brutal conference. Some are even saying that they might fail to enter the playoffs this season considering that they have to win at least 45 more games to advance.

Compared to the past few seasons, other Western Conference teams became better and stronger than the Thunder. Some NBA fans and so called analysts say that the Thunder needs more than a Durant and Westbrook combo. They need to really upgrade their roster and work at their depth.

Western Conference Top Finishers

The Golden State Warriors are the early champions of the west. If they can be consistent with their smooth flowing offense, there will be no other team that can stop them. Unlike the Thunder, the Warriors do have many options in terms of scoring. And their bench is much deeper than ever.

The Memphis Grizzlies is an emerging powerhouse at the West as well. Marc Gasol is one of the early MVPs this season and his performance at each and every game is totally unremarkable.  They are predicted to be one of the Western Conference finalists leaving no room for the Thunder.

The Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs are also making it harder for the Thunder to move up at the ladder. All of those teams might force OKC to sit out of the top 8 finishers. Although it’s too early to predict that, it just might happen.

The OKC Thunder is still a contender. They can still become one of the top 5 finishers but it will be hard for them to earn a ticket to the championship battle at the West.

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