The San Antonio Spurs became instant title contenders overnight. When the San Antonio Spurs acquired LaMarcus Aldridge and David West many people wrote them in as potential 2016 NBA Finals favorites. It’s easy to believe the Spurs will succeed, they have rising star Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker.
Nearly everyone who made the postseason in the Western Conference will be dangerous. The Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks will likely decline, but everyone else is terrific. You got the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Oklahoma City Thunder missed the playoffs last season because of a tiebreaker to the Pelicans.
Apr 7, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guardRussell Westbrook
(0) speaks to an NBA official during a break in action against the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
It’s the Thunder are the most dangerous team in the Western Conference. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are undoubtedly the best duo in basketball. Both players are top-5 players and should be in the running for MVP, if healthy. The Thunder also have an intriguing duo inside in Enes Kanter and Serge Ibaka. Kanter averaged 18.7 points and 11 rebounds in 26 games with the Thunder since being traded.
The primary reason the Thunder missed the playoffs was injuries. Westbrook missed 18 games, Serge Ibaka missed 18 games, and Kevin Durant was out 55 games. When Durant went out, Westbrook showed how great he truly is. He put up video game numbers. In 28 games after the All-Star break he averaged 31.4 points, 9.9 assists, and 8.6 rebounds.
I haven’t even mentioned the role players. The Thunder have sharpshooter Anthony Morrow, a scoring guard in Dion Waiters, D.J. Augustin, Mitch McGary, and Steven Adams. They also drafted Cameron Payne with the 14th pick in this year’s draft. Payne is a terrific playmaker who can score the ball as well.
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Last year the Thunder went 45-37, making it the first time they didn’t win at least 67% of their games since 2009-2010.
This season the Thunder should win around 60 games if Durant is healthy. If all goes well there is no question that they will be a contender who the Spurs can face in the Western Conference Championship.