Being a die-hard OKC fan has been a roller coaster; since the heartbreaking loss against Miami in the 2012 finals, and the betrayal of the once favorite MVP Kevin Durant, along with being knocked out by both Utah and Portland in the first round of the playoffs with Westbrook and PG-13, I didn't know what to expect once the thunder announced the trades of our two super stars.
Like anyone else who had been watching the movement of all-stars under Billy Donovan, the claims of various sports analysts saying this would be a "tough rebuilding stage" for OKC struck nerves in my gut. I mean with the multiple first draft picks we were given from trades, I did feel slight comfort knowing the future of the team was in good hands, but I definitely did not expect this sort of run from the new squad.
When we received Chris Paul in the Russell Westbrook exchange, I thought "Okay this might be good for our younger players"—and boy was I right. Not only is Paul guiding this young talent to a current fifth seed spot in the West, he was also nominated to play in this year's all-star team and won alongside Captain Lebron James. But it's not only the veteran's contribution that is giving OKC a good standing in the west. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari have proved themselves to be starters and adapted comfortably under Billy Donovan. Not to mention Dennis Schroeder is amongst talks for sixth man of the year. And recently Luguentz Dort has been on the come up to earn his spot on the starting line-up.
I attended one home game against the Memphis Grizzlies, which includes Rookie of the Year candidate Ja Morant. I was amazed seeing how well our guys played together. This game specifically, Schroeder went OFF for a 30-point game, but the rest of the team out-worked the Grizzlies, and by the end of the fourth quarter it was clear who was taking the W home. I do not want to speculate what will happen during the post season games, the West currently has (in my opinion) the toughest teams in the entire league. No doubt seed rankings will be moving as the season comes to an end. Lakers have already clinched a spot in the playoffs, Lebron and Davis are showing that Los Angeles is a title contender.
Our best chance is to hope we place far away from the Lakers or Clippers, who have been the biggest threat in the West. We have already proven ourselves able to beat Denver, Houston, Utah, Dallas and even some of the Eastern Conference powerhouses. We just need to consistently play our game and use every player to the best of their ability. We have shooters, we have the athletic guards, Steven Adams is undoubtedly the toughest big man in the NBA, and with Chris Paul's leadership OKC could possibly be a huge sleeper in the post season.
Mark my words; we will not be kicked out as early as most people think. Underdogs? Maybe. Giant Slayers? For sure. But tell me something I don't know about my home town.