What’s next for Oklahoma City Thunder?
Posted by: Anthony Yaylor
Last season’s NBA finals will go down in NBA betting history solely for the fact that it contained not one, but two comebacks from a 1-3 early series deficit. The Oklahoma City Thunder were charged to take down the best regular season team in NBA history. However, despite the early two game lead Durant and Westbrook were unable to carry the Thunder to a win during games 5, 6, and 7. In losing this series the Thunder failed to advance in the postseason and they’ve failed to maintain the interest of their biggest star, Kevin Durant.
By now sportsbook users everywhere are well aware that Kevin Durant will be signing with the Golden State Warriors in an effort to assemble the greatest team in NBA betting history. In the wake of his departure Oklahoma went from being a serious title contender to Russell Westbrook’s party of one. Sportsbooks were quick to change their odds and Betnow had the Thunder pegged at +555 odds for next years’ NBA title. But the burning question remains, without Durant what hope remains for the Thunder?
This will be a very important year for Oklahoma, considering that Westbrook only has one year remaining on his contract. If they are unable to do something positive then Westbrook will more than likely pull a Durant and abandon ship. Westbrook hasn’t been too vocal about his plans, and in his silence Oklahoma must decide what to do with their remaining superstar. The Thunder can choose to trade him during the season, and retain some value from the negotiation, or they can try and sign him to an extension. The one thing they cannot do is risk losing Westbrook to free agency.
Their best option going forward is to negotiate a trade for Westbrook, involve as many parties as possible and try to get as many draft picks the league is willing to barter. In doing so they would place all their gambling chips on their ability to draft well and develop young talent for the future. In the end it would be a much safer wager than hoping that Westbrook doesn’t follow Durant’s precedent.
This offseason Oklahoma lost another offensive powerhouse, Serge Ibaka, in a trade that acquired a flurry of players for the Thunder. However, in losing Ibaka and Durant Oklahoma has lost 33 percent of last year’s scoring, 28 percent of last year’s rebounds, and 48 percent of last year’s blocks. Clearly the Thunder have their work cut out for them next season.
For comparison, when LeBron left Cleveland in 2010 the Cavaliers went from having a 61 win season to a lowly 19 win performance. The Thunder might not be in such a precarious situation however, as they have still retained Westbrook. In the past Westbrook has proven that he can perform without Durant; in the 2014-2015 season Westbrook only had Durant’s help for 27 games. Westbrook responded to Durant’s absence by leading the NBA in field goal attempts and becoming the scoring leader for that season.
There are plenty of uncertainties facing Oklahoma heading into next season. At this point it would appear that rebuilding is their best option. A franchise that is as young as the Thunder is going to have a hard time attracting big name talent and would be better off investing in their ‘farm-system’. Whatever the Thunder decide to do you can guarantee the world of NBA betting will be eagerly watching.