The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the NBA’s rising teams, led by the duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Coming off their division title win, they now have a target on their backs. Quite a few experts have them going to the NBA Finals, which isn’t too far out of the question.
The Thunder look to be the front runner to win their division. The Portland Trailblazers recently lost star guard Brandon Roy due to retirement. The Denver Nuggets have many key players playing over in China, due to the NBA lockout that took place just a few months ago. Although they do have a slew of young talent from the Carmelo Anthony trade, I feel they their missing players will hurt them in the long run. The Minnesota Timberwolves have a very bright future led by big man Kevin Love, but I feel they are too young to contend this season. Finally, the Utah Jazz will not be the same team without all star point guard Deron Williams, and they don’t have any player that is close to Williams’ stature. This is why I believe the Thunder will have smooth sailings to the division crown.
Now the Western Conference will be a little more difficult to win, but it is very possible for Kevin Durant and the Thunder.
First off the Dallas Mavericks aren’t going anywhere, as they are the defending NBA Champions. They lost center Tyson Chandler to the New York Knicks, but acquired Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers for practically nothing. He will fill the void of Chandler and make it hard to beat them come April.
The San Antonio Spurs window is closing, but Tim Duncan and company will not be an easy out in the playoffs. They won the most games in the Western Conference last season, and were poised to make a championship run before all star guard, Manu Ginobli got hurt in the regular season finale. They have a lot of depth, which will help their stars get the rest they need.
The Memphis Grizzlies, like the Thunder, are on the rise in the NBA. They have a lot of talent on their roster from Rudy Gay (who missed most of last year with an injury) Zach Randolph,Marc Gasol, and OJ Mayo. They are a team that can be a threat to the Thunder’s hopes of going to the NBA Finals.
Now we get to Los Angeles, who doesn’t have just one promising team this season, but two. Both the Lakers and Clippers were involved in the Chris Paul trade talks. The Lakers had a trade sending Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Pau Gasol to the Rockets, as well as other pieces included in the deal, for Paul, but NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade. A few days later, the Clippers got Paul from the Hornets for a lot of young talent and draft picks. This makes the Clippers a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. Add Paul to young and rising stars in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and you have a very scary team. Also, the Clippers claimed vereran all star point guard Chauncey Billups of amnesty waivers. He will play at the two guard, alongside Paul at the point. Watch out for the Clippers this season.
Finally, we have the Lakers, who did not get Paul nor did they get arguably the best center in the NBA, Dwight Howard. The Lakers were rumored to land both CP3 and Howard, but neither of them are wearing the purple and gold. They traded Odom for draft picks and money compensation, a move many believe will hurt them. They still have Kobe Bryant, Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. They will be on a mission this season after getting embarrassed by Dallas in the second round of the playoffs last season.
Oklahoma City has a lot to look forward to this season. It won’t be easy, but they can get to at least the Western Conference Finals, if not the NBA Finals. Durant is one of the top five players in the league, and Westbrook is one of the best young point guards in the league. The only thing that could cause a problem is how Westbrook and Durant play together. Westbrook brings the ball up the majority of the time and often takes ill-advised shots. Durant should be the go to guy, and if they can coexist, the NBA will be in trouble. It is not only Durant and Westbrook who make this team good. They have a lot of other key and role players. James Harden is proving himself in the NBA with his hot shooting and explosiveness to the rim. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins will be a force to be recon with in the paint, as Perkins brings a tough, physical advantage to this young team.
I am picking the Thunder to go to the Western Conference Finals to play the Los Angeles…..Lakers. If the Lakers do not make a move for Dwight Howard, then I feel the Thunder will represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.
About the Author
Written by Eddie McDonald
I am a junior at Clarion University. I come from a small town. I played high school basketball and baseball. I love sports and being able to write and voice my opinion on sports.