Perhaps no week has better encapsulated this season’s Thunder team than the last one in terms of highlighting the surprising strengths and woeful weaknesses that plague a playoff bound basketball team who seems capable of beating anyone when firing on all cylinders and then capable of being destroyed by anyone when only a few of those cylinders show up ready to go.
First things first, the up-and-down nature of this team is by no means a surprise. After all, this is one of the youngest teams in the NBA who have three members of their starting five with only three or fewer seasons under their belts and three of their four reserve members being rookies. When you have a group as young and relatively inexperienced as that, consistency is going to be an issue and inconsistency should not come as any real surprise.
Just look at how they played Friday night against the Lakers and then watch the Blazers game on Sunday night; the Thunder were almost two entirely different teams except for a few bright spots here and there (namely Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka).
But their youth is also a reason to be tremendously impressed and hopeful for the future of the franchise because, well, young teams don’t perform this well over an 82 game season and almost never defend and play as a cohesive unit enough to even sniff the playoffs, let alone have a shot at a sixth, seventh or eighth seed at this point in the schedule.
So the Thunder are ahead of the curve in development. But the next 10 games (and hopefully beyond) are not about what the Thunder will develop into next season or the seasons after that. The next two and a half weeks is about where the Thunder are at right now and what, if any, damage they can do once they reach the playoffs.
So who is the Thunder this year and what five traits best define them, for the good and the bad?