It generally happens at this stage every year. When the NBA Draft has been completed, the majority of free agents have all signed and summer league is over. Fans get very nervous and bored with a basketball-less life and so, they go a little stir crazy.
It makes even the most casual NBA fan develop a very strong opinion as to the direction of their team (or opposition teams) and it makes for an abundance of rumor, speculation, worry and plenty more feelings across the gamut of emotions.
Oklahoma City Thunder fans especially know of this period in time. Generally, the Thunder draft a talent who is a year or two away from really carving their niche within the team, they have a handful of assets from overseas that they will leave over there and they don’t really do much with free agency.
It is almost like a formula for Sam Presti and the Thunder – and one fans should be used to by now.
Every year, we hear how other teams have gotten better. We look at the names taken in the NBA Draft and for some reason we always want a player that we passed up. Thunder fans get a little anxious and crazy around this time of year. Then free agency hits and all the big market teams snatch up all the big names on the big dollars, while OKC either does nothing or just tweaks the roster slightly.
What follows is can be described best by Heath Ledger in his role as the Joker. “Everyone loses their minds!!!”
We couldn’t beat the Spurs last year and now they have the steal of the draft in Kyle Anderson. We only just scraped past the Los Angeles Clippers and they are looking more dangerous than last season. Memphis almost had our number and now they have added a key piece like Vince Carter (that WE wanted!!!).
Each off season, we hear how the Thunder are going to struggle, how not making moves is going to cost them – and each year the Thunder make noise in the playoffs.
While it is true that Oklahoma City are generally quiet at this time of the year, it is for very good reason. The small market Thunder cannot afford to get into a bidding war with big market teams over talent. Also, the Thunder roster is literally just a couple of steps away from winning an NBA title.
OKC hover around the 60 win mark each year. Every season, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka come back better than the year before. They also have a good youn core who are only getting better too – players that would likely be starting on other teams like Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb. This off-season, they even made some small (but very effective) moves in bringing in Sebastian Telfair, Anthony Morrow and drafting Mitch McGary.
You see, it is easy to think the Thunder need to do something drastic to get over the hump – but the fact of the matter is that is just not true. The Thunder pushed the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals in 2012 and they got bundled out (ever so slightly as OKC battled through with Serge Ibaka on one leg)by the eventual NBA Champions in 2014. They are very close to winning it all, and they are improving every year.
They need to find some consistent outside shooting to punish defenses and make life easier for Durant and Westbrook. Enter Anthony Morrow. They need a center who can rebound, defend, score a little and pass the ball. Yup, there is Steven Adams ready to go on the back of a sensational rookie campaign. Need some firepower from the bench? You have Jeremy Lamb and potentially Reggie Jackson. Veteran leadership? Perkins, Collison and Telfair.
You see, it is easy to employ the “grass is greener” mentality, but when your own paddock is so very lush – why bother? The Thunder don’t need to make a blockbuster trade, they don’t need a third star and they certainly aren’t going to find the key to the promised land in the late picks of the NBA Draft. The Thunder already have the league MVP, a top 10 NBA player at the point, a very, very solid third string star in Ibaka and now some quality talent and depth on the bench, who have another NBA campaign under their belt.
OKC and their fans have heard it all before. It’s just hard for them to hear all the naysayers from atop the league standings.