Jun 21, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder bench reacts against the Miami Heat during the fourth quarter of game five in the 2012 NBA Finals at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City Thunder: Is Kevin Durant's supporting cast good enough for a deep playoff run?

Some people are saying that Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder finally have a roster that is championship worthy. They came close to a title in 2012, when the Miami Heat defeated them in the Finals. What makes them different this year than in 2012? Let’s take a look at the then, and the now and see how they compare.

2011-2012 Thunder

The 2011 Oklahoma City Thunder squad held a record of 55 wins and 27 losses. They played against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. They swept past them 4-0 to move on to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. The series went to 5 games and the Thunder defeated them 4-1. For the Conference Finals, they matched up with the San Antonio Spurs. The series ended up going to six games. After the Spurs won the first two, the Thunder came back and won the next four games. They entered the Finals matched up against the Miami Heat, who lost in the previous NBA Finals. The Thunder won the first game 105-94, but lost the next 4 games to the Heat. The last three losses were in front of the Miami Heat fans.

Their starting five looked as follows:

2011-12

PTS

REB

AST

BLK

Kevin Durant

28.5

7.4

3.7

Russell Westbrook

23.1

5.5

5.9

Thabo Sefolosha

5.3

3.0

Serge Ibaka

9.8

5.8

3.0

Kendrick Perkins

4.7

6.2

The Thunder showed up to the NBA Finals on a four game winning streak, to face the Miami Heat. In game one, they won 105-94. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook handled the scoring load, scoring 36 points and 27 points respectively. Westbrook neared a triple double with 11 assists and 8 rebounds. Ibaka added 10 points and Harden only pitched in with five points. For Game 2, they lost 100-96. Kevin Durant and Westbrook led the way again with 32 points and 27 points respectively. Harden did his sixth-man duties with 21 points. Game 3 ended in a 91-85 loss, with Durant and Westbrook scoring 25 and 19 points. Perkins was the next highest with 10 points and Harden added nine points. Game 4 was another loss, 104-98. Westbrook controlled the game with 43 points, with Durant adding 28. The rest of the team only combined for 27 points. In Game 5, the Heat won the Title after defeating the Thunder 121-106. Durant scored 32 points, Westbrook scored 19 points and Harden added another 19 points. The rest of team added 36 points.

Throughout the NBA Finals, the Thunder had amazing play from their “Big 3” consisting of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Unfortunately, the rest of the team didn’t put up enough scoring to get them the title. Although the Heat’s “Big 3” handles the scoring, what made a difference was that the rest of their roster chipped in and scored when they had to.

Is this year’s Thunder reserves ready to be any different?

2013-2104 Thunder

This year’s Thunder seem to have finally found a roster with a lot of depth. Although a lot of the players are the same from a couple years ago, they are starting to use the other guys a lot more compared to the 2012 Finals.

Their starting five consists of: Russell Westbrook at PG, Thabo Sefolosha at SG, Kevin Durant at SF, Serge Ibaka at PF and Kendrick Perkins at C. Notice something familiar? They start the same five people at they did in the 2012 NBA Finals against the Heat.

Here is their numbers for this season”

2013-14

PTS

REB

AST

BLK

Kevin Durant

32.1

7.6

6.9

Russell Westbrook

21.5

5.5

5.6

Thabo Sefolosha

6.7

3.7

Serge Ibaka

15.1

8.7

2.6

Kendrick Perkins

3.4

4.8

Like I said, the roster depth has become highly more productive. Nick Collison, Derek Fisher and Steven Adams all see around 16 minutes per game, while Reggie Jackson sees around 29 minutes per game. Perry Jones also sees more time, with 12.4 minutes per game through 60 games. Thanks to Westbrook’s injury on Christmas Day, the Thunder got to see how productive Jackson could be. He has filled the role of former Thunder guard James Harden’s sixth-man spot. He is averaging around 13 points per game, four rebounds per game and four assists per game. Adams chips in with rebounds, Fisher scores when they need him to. Collison just fills the stat sheet, Perry Jones is a great defensive presence, and the Thunder also have the ability to throw in Andre Roberson and Hasheem Thabeet when they can and/or have to. 

The main difference between Kevin Durant’s supporting cast of now and the one they had during the 2012 NBA Finals, is that they give the role players more minutes. The players at the 6, 7, 8 and 9 spot on the roster come in and attribute to the play of the starting five. They have a more complete team that has a lot of backup when a starter isn’t playing well. They can pretty much bank of Durant and Westbrook scoring a lot. The rest of the team chips in with points, but more importantly helps all-around. They grab rebounds, throw assists and play great defensively. Durant has been on a tear this season, especially during the absence of Westbrook. He has proven he is ready to lead a team to a title, especially since he has 41 straight 25-point games, passing Michael Jordan for the third-longest single-season streak of all time.

 

Editor’s note: This was a guess post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow him on twitter at @NBAFantasyInfo, and you can follow the Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page. For more Fantasy Basketball Projections visit FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com, a fantasy basketball blog.

 

Tags: NBA NBA Playoffs Oklahoma City Thunder

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