Thunder: 5 key talking points regarding possible Kevin Durant reunion

Mar 3, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) handles the ball against
Mar 3, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) handles the ball against / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This young Oklahoma City Thunder franchise has not even existed for two decades, so they don't necessarily have a long history. There have not been many dark days for the organization, but the bleakest moment throughout its history is easy to pin-point -- July 4, 2016, otherwise known as the day Kevin Durant announced he would be taking his talents to Northern California to join the Golden State Warriors.

Though quite a somber moment, that is in the past now, and every decision Sam Presti makes should be about helping the current core bring the first title to Oklahoma City in franchise history.

Could Durant help them do that? Let's dive in.

What happened in the first-round?

Durant and his current employers, the Phoenix Suns, flamed out in the first round of this year's postseason at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who punched their tickets to the conference semifinals via sweep.

KD averaged his third-lowest points per game averages in the playoffs, dropping 26.8 a night.

Moreover, Durant possesses the worst plus-minus among all 196 players who have logged playoff minutes, with a whopping minus-71. KD is one of two players to be minus-60 or more, with New Orleans Pelicans forward Trey Murphy III having the second-worst plus-minus.

Fortunately, this stat is not the end all be all.

It takes into account how many points your team is outscored by while one particular player is on the court, and Durant had four other teammates on the hardwood with him.

Nonetheless, it is intriguing how poor this number was. It was the worst plus-minus of KD's playoff career, surpassing the previous mark of minus-31 set back in 2021-22.

Not enough basketballs

The biggest reason the Thunder should not look to reunite with Durant this summer is because basketball is only played with one ball. He would simply take too many shots away from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, Chet Holmgren, and even Isaiah Joe.

Oklahoma City is currently playing the most team-oriented basketball they have ever played, and they already have one isolation-heavy player in SGA. He ranked third in isolation plays averaging 6.1 per game during the 2023-24 season, behind only Jayson Taytum and Luka Doncic.

Jalen Williams averaged the second-most isolation possessions per game for OKC with only 1.7 per contest.

Durant favors isolation, and he averaged 4.4 iso possessions per contest in 2023-24, which was a 17.7 frequency rate. These kinds of stats ranked eighth and ninth in the league, respectively.

OKC does not need another iso-heavy player added to their arsenal, and adding Durant would simply be too disruptive.

Advanced age

Durant has been open about feeling older and how it is difficult going against younger rising stars. Because the Thunder just became the youngest team in NBA history to be the number one seed and also the youngest to win and sweep a playoff series, adding the superstar forward who will be 36 when the 2024-25 campaign kicks off may not be the wisest of decisions.

The Thunder have played fast-paced basketball all season and wrapped up the regular season ranking fifth in pace with an average speed of 4.75 miles per game.

The Phoenix Suns finished 15th in pace with an average rate of 4.08. Adding Durant could make the Thunder change their style of play to fit him, and they should not change for any player outside of their core because what they are doing is working well.

Does Kevin Durant even fit this Thunder team?

Although the Oklahoma City Thunder just completed a sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans, it was clear that Jonas Valanciunas wreaked havoc on the Thunder's frontline. OKC is only going to face tougher big men as the playoffs move along, and this is a need that should be addressed in the offseason.

Would KD address that need? Not really, though he has played minutes at both the power forward and center position. That said, he is undersized to do it long term and it would add wear and tear to his aging body.

What if the Thunder reached the promised land next year?

This is a big "if", and one that is difficult to ponder when the Thunder are still currently embarking on their 2024 playoff quest.

However, looking into the crystal ball and seeing the club add KD this summer and going on to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy next season would likely be all about the former cornerstone returning and leading the Thunder to their first title.

Durant winning in OKC would dominate the narrative rather than Presti constructing and rebuilding a championship team through trade and the draft.

This would not only be frustrating, but it could also cause friction on this very tight-knit squad.

It's not that Kevin Durant returning is something that should never happen, but it's something that should not happen right now. Timing is everything in all walks of life, including pro sports, and the time is not right for the Slim Reaper to return to Oklahoma City.

This current Thunder core is on the rise, and they deserve to enjoy the full credit if and when a title finally comes.