Be as emotional and hurtful as you want but there is nothing to be ashamed of as a Thunder fan. Coming into this year, the Thunder wanted to get by the Western Conference Finals and advance to the NBA Finals. Of course, the Thunder wanted to win it all as well. Oklahoma City didn’t just go to the Finals to lose. However, a goal was accomplished and the Thunder made the next step as a team and franchise. Oklahoma City lost to a better, more experienced Miami team and as Scott Brooks said, ”They beat us fair and square.” Sometimes, the better team wins. It happens. I liked what Magic Johnson said about the Thunder loss in the finals, ”You cant teach experience.” Magic hit the bulls-eye with that line and it related to this young, Thunder team. Getting to the Finals was a chance for OKC to grow and learn from this valuable experience. Hopefully, the Thunder can do what the Heat did this year and use that experience in the next finals. Thunder fans, keep your head high because next year, this Thunder team will come back stronger than ever.
When LeBron James was criticized in the finals, Russell Westbrook was along side with him. Russell had haters and doubters all during the playoff last year. “He doesn’t pass,” was the commonly used phrase against Westbrook. Many thought the Thunder would trade Westbrook, and possibly deal him for Rajon Rondo. But Sam Presti signed Westbrook to a five-year deal and locked him in. Westbrook came out with something to prove this year. He had his down moments, but overall had a terrific year in my mind. In the off-season, Russell worked on his three-point shot and used his guns celebration a handful of times this year.
Best Game: Game 4 of the NBA Finals
Worst Game: Game 2 of the NBA Finals
Numbers: 23 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game
Russell: Losing to Heat in the Finals is “gonna push us to come back and be better players.” On heading to Olympics with KD, he’s “looking forward to representing our country…should be fun.”
Thabo is one of those guys who has to play his role and I thought he did that this year. I don’t think he played so well in the Finals, but he did play well in the regular season and throughout most of the playoffs. Thabo stepped up and guarded the opponents best guard every night. Sefolosha is known for his defense, but also helped the team on the offensive end with his three-pointers. Thabo really enjoys playing ‘his role’ on this Oklahoma City team.
Best Game: Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals (totally dominated Tony Parker)
Worst Game: Nothing stands out to me
Numbers: 5 points,1 assists, 1 rebound per game
Thabo: “It’s still fresh and it still hurts, but it was a great experience and a great season and we can learn from it. It was motivational.”
Well, what more do I have to say? KD won his back-to-back-to-back scoring championship and lead his team to the NBA Finals and a Western Conference championship. Something that stood out to me with Durant, besides his scoring, was his leadership. I remember in Game 4 of the LA series, as the Thunder were down the whole game and looked beaten Durant kept telling his teammates, ”Keep fighting, man.” The Thunder ended up winning a big game in LA that night, 103-100 with his big three over Metta World Peace. He is always a leader, and that is a big plus for this young Thunder team.
Best Game: Game 4 vs LA in the Western Conference Semi-Finals
Worst Game:Random, but on March 20th vs Utah in a loss, he was 6-22(0-7 from deep) and had 6 turnovers.
Numbers: 28.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game
KD: His best memories of the season: “On the road with teammates, on the plane, on the bus. We’re like brothers. I’m looking forward to getting back to work next year.” In the offseason, he will “Work on my body, work to be a better playmaker, better scorer.” Will he get some downtime after the Olympics? “I don’t know, basketball is my hobby.”
I thought Serge really came along this year. He improved a lot since last year. His mid-range jumper was awesome this year. He would pop off a screen and hit that jumper 7 out of 10 times. Serge led the league in blocks and was 1st team all defensive. Next year, I’m hoping Serge will perfect that mid-range jumper and work on his post moves down low.
Best Game: Game 4 vs the Spurs( Perfect 11-11 from the field and 26 points)
Worst Game: Nothing stand out.
Numbers: 9.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game
Perk is one of those guys who does the little things. Kendrick doesn’t appear much in the box score but he changes the game. He is extremely physical with his man and loves to communicate. Perk makes this young team strong and powerful inside. He played the last 3 rounds with a torn thigh which was hard for him. Perk needs to work on finishing at the rim, and being in better shape. I still don’t think we have gotten the Perkins we saw in Boston.
Best Game: Game 6 vs San Antonio
Worst Game: Game 5 vs Miami
Numbers: 4.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 0.7 assists per game
At the trade deadline, the Thunder picked up Fisher from the Lakers. Personally, I think Fisher came in and did a wonderful job. He was a leader in the locker room, and hit timely buckets for this young team. With the return of Eric Maynor next year, I’m not sure Fisher will be back. Anyway, if he goes, I will miss you Derek. Thanks for coming in and producing.
Numbers: 6.3 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game
In the summer, Scott Brooks and Harden went out to lunch. The two talked about Harden’s role on this team. Harden really enjoys his role on the team and embraces it. James took home the sixth man of the year award and really had a terrific year. I thought he was a big reason the Thunder made it to the Finals. His timely buckets in Game 4 vs Dallas won that series for OKC. Even though Harden didn’t play well in the Finals, he had an awesome year! Fear the beard!
Best Game: Game 4 vs Dallas
Worst Game: Games 2,3, and 4 vs Miami
Numbers: 16.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists per game
James Harden: The Thunder are “something special. We’re winning. We’re having fun. We’re brothers.”
Daequan came in off the bench and gave the team a spark this year. Sometimes, Cook wouldn’t get any minutes, but when he did, he produced. We all have fun saying,”DC FOR 3,” along with the P.A announcer.
Best Game: April 24th vs Kings( 19 points)
Worst Game: Nothing stands out
Numbers: 2.3 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists per game
Nick is another one of those guys who plays his role. Collison has been with this team a while now and really enjoys playing for the Thunder. His hustle and heart really shows on the floor. Nick and Harden’s chemistry is flourishing, and is a threat coming off the bench for the Thunder. He had a great year, and made big plays every night.
Best Game: Game 1 vs Miami
Worst Game: Nothing stands out
Numbers: 3.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1 assist per game
Nazr Mohammed , Reggie Jackson, Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward all had a role on this team. I hope they all return next year, and play well in the summer league.
Now, the offseason stars. I will be in the building thursday for the 2012 NBA Draft. The Thunder have the 28 pick. Go out and get an inside scoring presence, Sam Presti. I know you will make the right decision. Thunder fans, keep your head high, it was a hell of a year.