The current debate for OKC Thunder is whether to make a move to win now versus being patient and build for the near future.
Training camp has officially begun and the 2018-19 OKC Thunder squad have one goal in mind – to win an NBA Championship. However, Sam Presti’s offseason moves tend to indicate a one foot-in, one foot-out approach. Are the Thunder really going all in?
The 2018-19 NBA pre-season is upon us and for many OKC Thunder fans, NBA action couldn’t come fast enough. Oklahoma City had a terrific off-season, re-signing Paul George and Jerami Grant to extensions whilst adding tremendous depth to a Thunder roster light on back-up since the departure of Kevin Durant. OKC have a solid roster capable of making some serious noise in the NBA this season.
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Oklahoma City’s media day was much more relaxed this year compared to last, but one goal was thrown around with regularity – to win an NBA championship. While OKC’s roster is much deeper than year’s past, are the Thunder really pushing all their chips on the table?
Sure OKC’s core group of Russell Westbrook, PG13, Andre Roberson and Steven Adams are secure for the foreseeable future but one wonder’s if the acquisition of young talent really supports the idea of lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Abdel Nader are two unproven commodities while Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson are looking to solidify themselves in the Thunder’s nightly rotation. While Oklahoma City made a tremendous upgrade trading for Dennis Schroder at the back-up point guard position, who is OKC’s reserve shooting guard behind Dre?
The moves Sam Presti made this Summer reflect a win-now mentality as well as a view for the future. However, we have seen this movie previously. One of KD’s primary criticisms of Oklahoma City’s roster construction was the lack of veterans in the squad that helps the team win now. Outside of the starting unit, only Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton are the Thunder’s true veterans. With 2-Pat presumably set to start at power forward, OKC’s second unit will be lead by Schroder who is the most experienced of those not in the starting five.
So is Oklahoma City actually trying to win now?
Back to back NBA champions the Golden State Warriors possessed David West, Shaun Livingston, Javale McGee and Nick Young coming off the bench the past two seasons, serving as solid locker room guys and key cogs in the rotation. 2016 champions the Cleveland Cavaliers had Channing Frye, RIchard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert while the San Antonio Spurs have had countless veterans contribute to their long lasting success over the past 20 years.
With the season fast approaching, OKC must decide what the goal is. To win a championship or to just be competitive? While the roster possesses more depth than ever before, the lack of veterans who can contribute now is something to keep an eye on.