Thunder fans should take note of a statement made by Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers when he said “R-E-L-A-X” after a slow start to the 2014 season. After a monumental off-season, the Thunder have had some obvious, but expected, early season struggles. The Thunder acquired 4 time NBA all-star Paul George and 10 time All-star Carmelo Anthony during the 2017 off-season. Add those two prolific players to a team with the reigning 2016-2017 MVP, Russell Westbrook, who also signed the biggest contract in NBA history with a 5 year, $205 million contract, and you have a star-studded lineup with championship aspirations. With these expectations so high, it’s easy to start hitting a panic button with the slow 4-6 start to the season.
It’s very easy to get caught up in what everyone else is saying about the Thunder’s big 3. The questions were raised as to whether or not these 3 players, who have been “ball-dominant” scorers throughout their respected careers, could mesh and become a cohesive unit on the way to achieving the ultimate goal of bringing the very first NBA title to the Oklahoma City franchise.
Looking back at some similar circumstances to what the Thunder have endured this off-season in the NBA, the first thing that comes to mind is Lebron James “taking his talents to South Beach” in 2010 along with Chris Bosh to join Dwayne Wade to create the championship atmosphere with the Miami Heat. During the first 17 games of the season, Miami went 9-8 throughout that stretch. They finished the season with a record of 58-24 while making it to the NBA finals and losing to Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in 6 games. Miami went on to win back to back titles in 2012 and 2013 while making the Finals every year Lebron was there, before leaving for the Cavs in 2014.
Although the Thunder have been struggling, there have been some very intriguing moments to be excited about. It starts with the defense and that has been preached about since day one. They all know they’re capable of scoring with the high powered offenses in the NBA, but defense wins championships. The Thunder have proved that they can be one of the best defenses in the league while holding NBA teams to 96.8 PPG, which trails only Boston for the top spot. Watching games, you can see moments of clarity when it comes to the offense. It will take time to get acclimated to each of their playing styles, and just to gain overall chemistry, but the Thunder stars are not worried and neither should any of the fans. These things take time and they have 72 games to figure out all of the little kinks and quirks. They’ve shown a glimpse into what can, and should be a dominant team going forward into one of the most competitive all-around NBA seasons that the league has ever seen.