Bill Simmons argument OKC Thunder could be West’s x-factor merits consideration

New OKC Thunder players Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul. Could they be WC x-factor? (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
New OKC Thunder players Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul. Could they be WC x-factor? (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) /
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2019 NBA Free Agency
Chris Paul, 2019 NBA Free Agency (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Reviewing the shifts in the NBA during free agency media mogul Bill Simmons believes the OKC Thunder could be the Western Conference x-factor this year. Diving into the current roster there is a good reason to buy into his argument.

When you love a team it’s often hard to separate emotion from fact. In fact, the only two teams that issue arises for me personally is the OKC Thunder and Toronto Raptors. I guess it’s natural because when you become so invested in a team it’s easier to convince yourself of their potential. While the goal is to look at the situation with an open mind, telling your heart to not interfere with your head is easier said than done.

For example, I entered the postseason with a strong belief the OKC Thunder could defeat the Blazers based on their regular season success coupled with the loss of the Blazers Jusuf Nurkic due to injury.

The latter situation meaning Steven Adams could feast on Enes Kanter. As we know those assumptions missed the mark and in hindsight, it’s easy to point to the fact I didn’t give enough credence to Paul George‘s injuries or the lack of Thunder depth vs. the Blazers.

As for my home town team, the opposite result occurred for all the same reasons. Having watched all 82 Raptors games I was confident they would at a minimum reach the Eastern Conference Finals and had a great shot at winning the title particularly if they built their chemistry during the postseason.

In this situation knowing Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry hadn’t played together in almost half (39) of the regular season games and Marc Gasol‘s addition came at the trade deadline, it meant the team was still developing chemistry which kept growing throughout each round.

Suffice to say it’s a slippery slope when you spend days analyzing film, stats, and comments and being cognizant of stepping out of your “fan shoes” in order to assess the situation with a strictly unbiased view.

To wit, listening to Bill Simmons recent podcasts and his belief the OKC Thunder could be the West’s x-factor offered an unbiased argument to side with. I found myself buying into his argument the Thunder could be that surprise team because he made relevant points (and let’s face it — I want to believe it’s possible). After all, Simmons does make valid points. Much like the Clippers of last season, the revamped Thunder features a number of talented players.

Should the Thunder make no additional alterations to the squad as of this point they’ll be running back a team featuring a cast who could surprise opponents.

Note: fast forward to 18:00 for Simmons comments on OKC Thunder being a team who could still compete as a playoff team with their current roster.

Let’s look at the team as of today and consider why Simmons views them as a potential x-factor playoff squad in the West.