After losing a top-3 player in Kevin Durant in the 2016 offseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the opportunity to bounce back and become a true contender for several years. Since the 2012 finals, the Thunder have been a top-three seed almost every year, but after losing Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder dropped down to the sixth seed. https://twitter.com/DEEPishSports/status/864948738950692864
Although the Thunder have declined this year, they have been blessed with an MVP candidate in Russell Westbrook. Westbrook made improvements to his game to help himself become an all-around player. With that being said, even an historic season by Russell still was not enough to compete for a championship as the Thunder lost in 5 games to James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the first round.
The reason why the Thunder did not go anywhere in the playoffs is not rocket science. They have no shooters! Andre Roberson shot close to 25% from three, and Victor Oladipo did not do that much better, only shooting 36%. Russell Westbrook is a penetrating guard, so naturally, the “perfect teammate” for him is a consistent three-point shooter from the two guard, and possibly his wing player. The problem with the Thunder is they do not have either of those. All the Thunder have to do is make some smart moves in the offseason to get back to being a real contender.
This year, the Thunder proved that although they have solid players they could not compete unless they had Russell Westbrook on the court. If Sam Presti is smart, he would come into this offseason with the mindset of everyone but Westbrook is safe. He could make improvements in every position except for the starting point guard. With that being said, the Thunder are in need of a solid power forward more than anything.
The Thunder only have five free agents this year, with Norris Cole, Nick Collison, Taj Gibson, Jerami Grant, and Andre Roberson set to hit the open marker. Granted, Taj Gibson has proven to be a decent power forward for them, but with players like Blake Griffin, and Paul Millsap available at the four spot, the Thunder could upgrade from a decent veteran to a top-ten power forward.
If the Thunder re-sign both Gibson and Collinson, they will be shooting themselves in the foot. This decision would prove they are stuck in the past and they have no intentions of achieving greatness. What the Thunder need is a power forward who can either dominate the paint and hit a 12-15-foot jump shot, or they need a guy who can stretch the floor and perform the pick-and-pop with Russ. Amir Johnson comes to mind when thinking of a good fit for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder have two solid centers, but don’t be surprised if Kanter is dealt soon. JaVale McGee seems to be a better back-up center than Enes Kanter due to McGee’s ability to protect the rim and slam dunks over defenders.
Victor Oladipo has been considered a bust by many people, but if he can continue to work on his shot, the Thunder could have the best backcourt in the league. Oklahoma City could go out and acquire a player like Kyle Korver, or JJ Redick for a sharpshooter coming off the bench to aid Doug McDermott.
As for Andre Roberson, he could be in some trouble. After shooting 14% from the line this postseason, Roberson could be straight up replaced this offseason. The Thunder have some good options at the three spot since players like Gordon Hayward, and Otto Porter Jr. are available in this year’s free agency. The Thunder could even get a deal on Andre Iguodala, or Danilo Gallinari, which would increase their three spot three-point percentage by up to 13%, thus helping Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder need good three-and-D players, and that is what this year’s offseason is full of. If the Thunder could land a player like Patty Mills for the backup point guard, get either Korver or Redick at the two guard, Hayward, Iguodala, or Gallinari at the wing, and/or either Blake Griffin, or Amir Johnson and the four spot they would be a force to be reckoned with. The league has changed; now it is time for the Thunder to change with it, and it starts with this offseason.