Lets make this very clear; the Spurs outplayed the Thunder down the stretch in the Western Conference Finals and deserve another trip to the NBA Finals. I hope OKC was taking notes on the Spurs this past series because the Thunder were not playing the brand of basketball that wins championships. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook do not create enough high percentage scoring opportunities and settle on sheer talent way too often. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of good going on with that duo in Oklahoma City, but as we saw in this past series and for the last four years, the Thunder still need to fill some holes in their gam
Scott Brooks and the Thunder management need to do the following over the offseason in order to give themselves a legitimate shot at the title.
Bring in some help off the bench:
OKC’s bench is horrendous. Their bench accounted for five total points in game six against San Antonio, and all of those can be credited to veteran sharp shooter Derek Fisher. You can take him out of next year’s equation completely as that was most likely the last game of Fisher’s storied career. The Thunder’s second rotation contributed less than 20% to the team’s points,just shy of 29% of rebounding, and below 25% of of their assist totals. Sounds like their missing someone named James Harden. Nonetheless, the Thunder must go back to the drawing board this offseason.
The Thunder will have around $10 million to play with this summer without having to pay the luxury tax. Here are some players that OKC should go after.
Greg Monroe or Pau Gasol: Signing either of these big men would most likely put the Thunder into luxury tax, but bringing in a 3rd star would be worth the price. Monroe or Gasol would give the Thunder a Center who Westbrook and Durant could trust to carry the scoring load down low. Durant would no longer have to settle for turnaround jumpers from the top of the key. Possessions like these just aren’t reliable in late game situations. This transaction would push current Center Kendrick Perkins to the bench, giving OKC a viable body coming off the bench.
Ed Davis: The two games that Serge Ibaka sat out with an injury against the Spurs were surely a win/lose difference for the Thunder. When players like Ibaka and Westbrook go down, OKC has nothing to fill those voids with. Davis gives the Thunder a viable backup to Ibaka, and they could probably even sign him for the mid-level exception, hence not affecting the luxury tax.
Shaun Livingston: The Thunder currently start two combo guards in Westbrook and Reggie Jackson. Livingston gives OKC a versatile option off the bench at point guard. At 6’7, Livingston can guard multiple positions and would become the Thunder’s floor general type of guard off the bench or when Westbrook gets hurt.
Ray Allen: Assuming this is the last year of the big three in Miami, Allen could bring his sharp shooting talents to Oklahoma and be the perfect 6th man. With the way he has been playing, Allen still has a few years in the tank as the NBA’s premier spot up shooter.
The Big Picture:
Ultimately, OKC needs to add depth to their lineup in all shapes and forms. Thats still not enough. Durant and Westbrook need to start making the players around them better instead of putting on a two man show. They need to find a better way of getting easy baskets in transition rather than having to set up plays every time down the court. They also need one more top flight contributor; maybe Greg Monroe or Pau Gasol can be that guy for them.
They might also need to watch this video: