How Far Can OKC Go Without Kevin Durant?


With the recent news that Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant will be held out of basketball-related activities, many Thunder supporters and basketball fans alike fear that this may be the end of Durant’s season. 

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The Thunder organization felt it was best to hold Durant out of basketball-related activities because he was still experiencing soreness and pain in his right foot and it has not been progressing as expected. There is no timetable for KD’s return at this time but that hasn’t stopped many from speculating he might not play again for quite some time.

If Durant is sidelined for the rest of the season, what does that mean for the Thunder? How far can they realistically go without last year’s MVP?

Durant has been out since February 19 and has only played in 27 games this season due to different injuries. The Thunder have been without KD for a better part of the season. The team has learned how to play and occasionally win without him on the floor.

Russell Westbrook has shown the leadership ability and talent to be able to get some wins against good and bad competition. Westbrook has averaged 31.5 PPG, 11.4 APG, and 10 RPG over the last 15 games without KD. He is also averaging a triple-double and has had eight in total during Durant’s absence this past month. Westbrook has also led OKC to a 11-5 record over the past 16 games, all played without Durant. The team is currently the eighth seed in the playoff standings and are ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans by three games for the final spot.

The team has proven that they can compete for a playoff spot without Durant, albeit the final spot in a tough Western Conference. The difficulty will be for the Thunder to hold on to the eighth seed and, if they do, will they be able to make some noise in the playoffs?

With only 12 games left in the season, every single game is critical for a team on the bubble like OKC. With the addition of key players like Enes Kanter and D.J. Augustin, the Thunder have been able to add some more talent to the roster to help Durant and Westbrook in the playoffs and compete for a title. But with the seemingly never-ending injuries that the team has faced, these players have become vital parts of finalizing the playoff push.

The Thunder have had championship aspirations and optimism all season long despite their injury struggles. But with KD potentially out for the rest of the season and possibly not being healthy for the playoffs, the team’s championship hopes will be in jeopardy and their playoff run will probably end sooner than expected. Over the past few seasons the Thunder have lost in the playoffs with Kevin, so it will be even more difficult without him.

This wouldn’t be the first year that the Thunder have been devastated by injuries late into the season. In the past two years they have suffered injuries in the playoffs that have caused their championship hopes to be derailed.

Two years ago in the 2013 playoffs, Westbrook suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee during the teams first round match-up with the Houston Rockets. This caused the teams title hopes to be placed in jeopardy and they later lost in the second round against the Memphis Grizzlies.

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Also, last season in the playoffs, the Thunder lost Serge Ibaka after their second round games against the Los Angeles Clippers. This was supposed to cause Ibaka to miss the rest of the postseason but he actually played in the Conference Finals against the San Antonia Spurs although he was nowhere near full strength. Eventually the Thunder were eliminated by the Spurs.

Even if the Thunder do make the playoffs by sneaking into the final seed in the Western Conference, they will have to face one of the best, if not the best, team in the NBA in the Golden State Warriors. OKC has a 1-3 record this season against the Warriors.

So while the Oklahoma City Thunder might make it into the playoffs without Durant, it is unlikely that the will be able to get past the Warriors in the first round. Without KD, it will ultimately be an early round exit and yet another season that the Thunder will miss out on a championship opportunity thanks to the unfortunate timing of yet another injury.