By: Evan Singleton
The, quite possibly, best NBA team that never was... Now, let me preface this by saying that in order for this to even be possible things had to fall into place, perfect place. And some things needed to not happen. However, obviously things did not work out, nor did things magically happen to allow this team to come to fruition. This is all would’ve, could’ve, should’ve been talk.
The Oklahoma City Thunder could’ve been one of the best and most dominant NBA teams ever. How, you might ask? Well, let’s start with what would have been the best offensive, and overall, Big Three of all time. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook would have been a better trio than Bird-McHale-Parish, Pierce-Allen-Garnett, and both of LeBron’s Big Three’s (w/ Bosh and Wade + Irving and Love).
Now, obviously Harden was let go due to finances, but it was completely possible to keep him. However, as I get deeper and deeper into this, the money becomes unrealistic. That is why I prefaced this article the way I did.
Now let me add in two other names that would’ve completely aided to this idea. First off, Serge Ibaka. I think everyone forgets just how good Ibaka was (defensively) on that squad. It was, for the majority of his time there, a perfect fit. Now, think about the offensive skill Ibaka has now. He is miles ahead of where he was say five years ago (though he is still not an offensive stud).
Next up, Reggie Jackson. Yeah I get it… Reggie Jackson isn’t an absolute stud. However, he does nothing but add to my point. He is a pretty damn good point guard in this league. That being said, in a take-tunnel like this one, he would’ve been one hell of a backup guard. It would be tough for him to get the stating nod over Russ or Harden. Then again, image a starting five of all five of these guys.
Jackson and Westbrook at the guard positions. Harden at the 3. Durant at the 4. And Serge at the C.
“But that is such a small lineup.” Yeah, well if you have watched an NBA game recently you’d know that is really isn’t that absurd. The Warriors, arguably the best team in the league, runs Draymond Green at the center position plenty, as well as Durant at the 4.
So other than Jackson, I really haven’t touched on any sort of a bench unit. And for the sake of argument let’s just go with the starting lineup aforementioned. Put Jackson in the starting lineup. Forget the position discrepancy.
Let me first say that a bench is not necessarily a must-have in this league. The Cavs really have a rundown and old bench. So ideally, this OKC team could’ve had guys like that. Play the free agency wire and grab some cheap, savvy, veteran players. But picking from guys that were on that team, they actually had a few interesting names.
Thabo Sefolosha is a name I would like to throw out there. He is not a great player, but he is definitely a valuable three and D guy off of the bench. Hell, he has even starting on teams since then. Another name would’ve been Jeff Green. Think what you want about the guy, bad or good, he would’ve added to that team.
We have got to remember that the starting lineup would be playing the majority of the game. They could do exactly what the Cavs do, only better.
So whether or not you want to validate Sefolosha or Green is irrelevant. They could’ve added bench depth easily. This would’ve been a destination team. And they should’ve won NBA titles.
The Thunder made it to the NBA Finals prior to really any of them being in their true primes. Now, image what THIS Russell Westbrook, THIS James Harden, and THIS Kevin Durant would’ve been able to accomplish had they all stayed together…