Thunder facing unforeseen scenario as season nears end
After what transpired during the summer, who would've thought the Thunder would end up in a situation like this?
With only three games to go, Oklahoma City has yet to secure a playoff spot. Even if the Thunder do clinch a spot, this season has been incredibly underwhelming and disappointing for many reasons.
Russell Westbrook squeaked OKC into the playoffs last year with a 47-35 record, good enough for the sixth seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder were then bounced in the first round in the five games by Houston, mercilessly ending the franchise's first year without Kevin Durant.
It looked as if the magic that once enveloped the city with deep playoff runs had come to an end.
Then general manager Sam Presti waved his wand in July, and superstar Paul George suddenly arrived to give the MVP some much-needed all-star assistance. Things were looking up.
Presti wasn't done there, though.
Only two months later, Presti delivered an even more shocking move, trading beloved Enes Kanter along with Doug McDermott and a second-round pick for Carmelo Anthony. Just like that, OKC was a title contender once again.
Or so we thought.
The Thunder now sit a sixth in the West, and at best, they can finish only 48-34, only one game better than last season. Even that could be a stretch given the team's remaining schedule at Houston, at Miami and vs. Memphis.
This team was touted to be the main threat to Golden State, but things have taken an unforeseen turn.
For a club that acquired two superstars to pair with Westbrook, the inconsistency and mediocre basketball has not only been ugly, it's been embarrassing. There is a decent chance the Thunder could miss the postseason all together. That would be rock bottom for an organization that's been looking for answers since Durant's departure on July 4, 2016.
So what went wrong when everything seemed to be going so right?
What, if anything, should Thunder fans regret about what shaped this squad into what it is today?
We already know what OKC was last year with a lone superstar, so why aren't three (or two and half) working.
Well, we have to look at the offseason acquisitions.
George has underperformed to some extent, averaging 2.1 points less than last season at 21.6 points per game.
That is a little worrisome, but when considering he's the second option to a ball-dominant guard in Westbrook, the decrease is excusable.
Anthony, on the other hand, is a different matter.
He already didn't have a great reputation before coming to OKC, with some referring to him as a "cancer" in the locker room when he was with the Knicks. Could the Thunder's struggles be attributed to his presence? Maybe, but there is no concrete evidence to support that at this time.