Looking Back at the Thunder’s Early Season Struggles


The Oklahoma City Thunder has had to overcome a lot of adversity over the past months, maybe more in the first half of this season than in previous seasons combined. But even with all of the seemingly never-ending problems this year, OKC has found a way to battle through every single challenge and at the All-Star break they sit at a record of 28-25 and just a half a game back of the 8th seed.

The biggest problem this season for the Thunder has been injuries. A team in the past rarely plagued by many injuries, they have been completely devastated the team this season. Before the season even started their star player, Kevin Durantwent down with a Jones Fracture in his right foot. He was out for the first 17 games of the season and has missed 26 games in total this year. There was always the optimism when Durant first went down that Russell Westbrook would lead the team to an above .500 record. As he’s proven in the past, Westbrook would keep the team in contention with other top teams, not just in the West but across the whole league. But in merely the second game of the season, he went down with a hand injury which caused him to miss 14 games.

The team was without both Durant and Westbrook, causing them to drop multiple games. In the West, every game is important and in the last few seasons, the 8th seed has won an average of 47 games. Each win is crucial and in a season where the Thunder superstars have missed so many games it will be very difficult for them to make it into the playoffs. It hasn’t gotten any easier as the season has continued with only more injuries and constant struggle. Steven Adams will potentially be out for three weeks after the All-Star break which only means more problems for OKC. If any team can overcome the struggles placed in their way this year it is the Thunder. With superstars Durant and Westbrook healthy, they can take this team as far as it needs to go.

This season has just been one bad news story after another for OKC. Not just with injuries but also with rumored coaching and personnel changes as well as actual trades. Even if the rumors are mostly speculation by the media, it still affects the team psychologically as you can never tell if the rumors are true or not.

One trade that actually happened to acquire Dion Waiters from the Cavaliers in a three team deal, which most would agree that this trade has helped the Thunder. They are probably not done with trades this year as we still are in the final week before the trade deadline and Reggie Jackson is likely to be moved. We will have to wait to see what they do.

Some rumors even indicate that chemistry, for the first time in years, is a problem in the Oklahoma City locker room. Whether it be an argument between players or a tweet that stirred controversy, problems and rumors have followed OKC everywhere this year.

The team had very high goals for the regular season before the year but they now have slightly lowered, more realistic goals for the second half. They are three games over .500 and and their main goal right now is to merely make the playoffs at the end of the year. Whether it be in the 8th seed or higher depends somewhat on other teams but will also require nothing less than 100% effort from the team for the remainder of the season.

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Through all the issues and problems, for the Thunder just to be in the position they are right now seems miraculous but is really a reflection of a team that has the sufficient talent to win it all. This team will work hard and compete every night. The team has learned to play without their superstars and this has helped them become a better team when Durant and Westbrook are healthy. Should OKC make the playoffs at any seed, they will be a difficult team to eliminate and no team would want to face them at any point.

Adversity will continue to follow the Thunder this season and nothing will come easy but they have what it takes to put this horrific first half of the season behind them, rest during the All-Star break, and come back stronger than ever to close the season in winning fashion.