Northwest Division Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder


The Oklahoma City Thunder

2013-14 Record: 59-23, 1st in Northwest

The Oklahoma City Thunder have claimed the Northwest Division title the past four seasons, and unless something crazy happens, you can expect more of the same dominance and another divisional crown from Kevin Durant and company in the 2014-15 campaign.

They’ll mess around and compete for a title, just like they do every season. Whether they can actually win it all still remains to be seen.

Let’s take a look behind the curtain, shall we?

The Roster

2014 MVP Kevin Durant averaged 32 points per game last season. He’s awesome. Then you throw in Russell Westbrook and everything he brings to the team, and it’s clear the Thunder have one of the premier one-two punches in the league. Their greatness isn’t exactly a newsflash at this point, but it cannot be forgotten either. The Northwest Division didn’t just win itself for the last four years, did it?

The next two down the line aren’t too shabby, either. Serge Ibaka is possibly the most intimidating power forward in the NBA, and with his incredibly athleticism and defensive instincts he’ll swat anything that remotely resembles a basketball if it gets near the rim (2.7 bpg last season). And Reggie Jackson may not be Mr. October, but he plays to win and can seemingly get to the basket at will. Look for Jackson to increase his scoring (13 ppg) even though he’ll be competing for shots with KD and Westbrook.

One Dude To Watch Out For

Maybe it’s too late for this guy to become a star player, but Perry Jones III is someone I’m going to keep an eye on this season. In two seasons with the Thunder, Jones has averaged a measly 3 points in ten minutes per game. But Jones just turned 23 in September, and his physical talents are off the charts.

At 6’11, 235 pounds Jones fits the profile of the prototypical power forward, yet his incredible quickness and leaping ability give him the talent to guard on the wing. He shot 36% on a small sample of three pointers last season, and if he can put it all together he could become a terrifying 3 and D player for years to come. He might not amount to anything, but the freakish talent he exuded in this grainy video still exists somewhere within him, right?

The Basketball Horoscope

Psychic Madam Fortuna sees much in the future of the Oklahoma City Thunder. She’s not sure what it means, but she envisions them returning to the stage that once betrayed them. She also predicts that Kendrick Perkins will lose his current professional standing, and that he’ll have to return to his roots if he hopes to find his path. It’s worth mentioning that while Madam Fortuna is an expert on hoop earrings, she knows very little about basketball hoops.

The Real Outlook

The Thunder will win the Northwest again. They’re just better than every other team in the division.

Look for Kevin Durant to average another easy 30 points, and for Westbrook to once again be the perfect change of pace complement to Durant. They’ll win somewhere between 55 and 60 games and finish the season as top 2 or 3 seed in the Western Conference.

From there, they’ll make quick work of their first round opponent, and then we’ll get to the good stuff. Yes, they’ll have another chance to win the title, but like every other year in the West, they’ll have to defeat some other really awesome team like the Clippers or the Spurs to even make it to the Finals.

Cody’s Questions

I have a few questions regarding the Thunder, but none are more important than this one: why is Oklahoma City still playing in the Northwest Division? Seriously, what is up with the geographical logic? It makes absolutely no sense. Just look at ‘em: Minnesota, Utah, Denver, Portland, and Oklahoma City? Something’s not right here…

Maybe I’m just bitter because our drunken, cheese-eating neighbors in Milwaukee get to watch their phenom’s Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo grow up in the much more forgiving East, while Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine are left to discover the million ways to die in the west.

Whatever. Until the league gets smart and does a little creative reorganization, you can look forward to plenty more seasons ending with the Oklahoma City Thunder as the Northwest Division champions.

2014-15 Prediction: 56-26, 1st in Northwest