What do the NBA Finals mean for the OKC Thunder?

Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (left) and shooting guard Dwyane Wade (right) celebrate after defeating the San Antonio Spurs in game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. Miami Heat won 95-88 to win the NBA Championship. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

NBA fans were treated to one of the best NBA Finals in history this year as the Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 last night.

There was so much at stake in this series and it definitely did not disappoint.

The NBA champion seems to define the league more than in any other sport. Teams usually enter the offseason trying to figure out a way to become specifically better than the champion.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of a small handful of teams with a chance to win a title next year. It’s very early of course but next year’s title does seem more wide open than ever. The Heat don’t exactly look like a team that is guaranteed to roll to a fourth straight Finals appearance and the Spurs seemed to be making their last title run as well.

Given what took place in these Finals, what does it mean for the Thunder? Do they need to commit more to small ball? Does Kevin Durant need to try more than ever to imitate LeBron James? Are any drastic changes necessary?

What we’ve seen from the last three champions is that superior ball movement, execution and perimeter shooting leads to championships. The Mavs, both Heat teams and the Spurs (who came as close as possible to winning this year) all exemplified this.

The Thunder, for how great they are, are pretty far from becoming one of these teams. Known for their stagnant, predictable offensive sets as much as anything, if you’re gauging the ability to win a title by mocking the last three champs, the Thunder have quite a ways to go.

It’s only natural for the Thunder to continue toward becoming a team like the Heat. They don’t necessarily have to get to that level to win a title, but it will only help.

It’s hard to tell if the Thunder have it in them. Their greatness comes in a more dominant, overwhelming fashion than what we see from the Heat and Spurs. If you don’t have a clear advantage in terms of talent, relying on dominant isolation scoring from Durant and Westbrook and superior athletic plays on defense might not be enough to become a champion.

Ultimately, the way these Finals played out has to be good for the Thunder. It only reinforces what the Thunder should be doing. They need to try and cut ties with Kendrick Perkins, either by benching him or somehow trading him. Serge Ibaka needs to become the future five with Durant getting the most minutes at the four, and continuing to develop into a reliable post scorer.

LeBron getting his second ring continues the path that seems to define the league as much as anything. The best player in the league will always find a way to win multiple titles. Kevin Durant is next in line to be that player.

It might not be as much about trying to imitate the Heat and Spurs as it will be to just be patient, and wait until it is Durant’s time. Watching these Finals and even with how great LeBron was in the last two games, you have to feel it won’t be long until Durant is in the conversation for best player in the world.

Winning titles can simply be a waiting game in the NBA, especially when you have one of the all-time greats. Durant will go down as one and one day it will be his time. Just not quite yet.

Topics: NBA Finals, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder

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  • Grant

    Finding someone to take the Perkins contract is going to be difficult. The consolation of having him around to be a mentor to toughen up who ever we bring in as a big in the draft (assuming we draft a big) isnt horrible. Ibaka at the 5 is good idea but he will need to bulk up to play there full time wont he? I know the league for the most part is getting smaller but 235lbs is a little on the light side to be a full time 5 right? I like Durant at the 3 too. Maybe if Ibaka can bulk up a little become that full time centre we could sign and trade K Mart for a decent 4, maybe a Luis Scola or something (being conscious of salaries). Would that work?

  • Dr Swishhh

    I think its a better scenario for OKC to have been watching than involved and losing the way the Spurs did. Who would want our players to carry that for the rest of their lives…we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It would’ve killed KD considering his “I’ve always been second” rant.

    I don’t think we can expect KD or Russell to play at too much higher level on their own. It will take a lot of improvement from others if they are going to elevate their games through the roof. This season largely revolves around Ibaka in my view. If he plateaus we are good but not good enough. He needs to keep up his greatly improved shooting but develop at least a semblance of a back to the basket game. We need Serge to earn his huge salary increase. Reggie Jackson could be a fully fledged junior Russ next season but whatever his improvement, we will still need Serge to be a dominant player in many more games than he has been.

    I can see Perkins having a reduced role but we still need him. Who else is going to play against the big gorillas? We need to have that option until someone is big enough and strong enough to take his place. I liked the article by Nick Gallo on the Thunder website that talks about how hard he and the young guns have been working.

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