The season just started and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s season may be over. As of right now, they are 1-2 with losses to Portland and the Clippers and a win over the Denver Nuggets. It’s true that Portland and the paper clips are both playoff caliber teams and OKC could’ve easily lost those games any way, but when the league MVP, Kevin Durant, and your perennial All-Star, Russell Westbrook, are gone for 6-8 weeks and 4 weeks respectively in a loaded Western Conference, this may spell doom for the entire season.
Barring a miracle, the duo of Durant and Westbrook will likely miss about 20 games. The Western Conference is about 10 teams deep and a contender like OKC would hate to dig an early hole to try to get out of at the start of the year. Not only that, the Thunder had a total of 7 players with DNP’s their last game. They are playing with a true skeleton crew. Coach Scott Brooks is a decent coach and he will get the most out of the reserves. This could wind up being a good thing for the Thunder further down the road with guys like Perry Jones able to step up and get valuable minutes during this part of the season. It won’t matter though if the Thunder can’t win games and not fall out of the top 8 in the conference.
Another problem is Durant’s injury could possibly be one that lingers, especially if he comes back too soon. No, he’s not a center, but he is about 6’10” and bigger guys with foot problems tend to keep foot problems, i.e., Yao Ming, Rasheed Wallace. The Thunder are going to need to make sure Durant is at 100% before putting him back on the floor, but they may feel under pressure if their position in the standings isn’t a favorable one. The further down they slide, the harder they will have to play to get back in a favorable position, which could mean being exhausted come playoff time. He will also have to get back into game shape. Yes, he is one of the best players in the world, but it’s not going to be as simple as just throwing him back out there and he puts up numbers. He will have to work his way back into the flow of the game which will take a few games especially not being able to run and jump. In the West, you definitely want to finish in the top four so that you have home court advantage, because any match-up in the top 8 will not be considered much of an upset if the lower seed were to win.
It looks like there will be lots of rainy days ahead for the Thunder.