The story of the 2014-15 Oklahoma City Thunder is a tragic tale. A story of failure, disappointment, pain, and goodbyes, and it all started when Sam Presti traded James Har----nah I'd rather not go there.
It was last year's Western Conference Finals that the Thunder learned what they truly are: a team that depends on luck. This team is a rare bunch, one that is uncommonly saturated with superstars. And that is why they have yet to achieve their ultimate goal.
Over the past few seasons, the Thunder have not had a gaping weakness in anything on the court. Their offense was crisp and efficient (until injuries became an issue). Their defense was anchored by athletes and physical bigs. And their coach was loved by the players. It is off the floor that proved to be the road block for this team, and it can be worn with a tie and a belt. No, suits are not the reason for OKC's struggles; the players in the suits are. OKC's inability to put out a consistent starting lineup (one that includes last year's MVP) proved to be their downfall and the main reason why they missed the playoffs.
Injuries have been plaguing the Thunder for too long. Russell Westbrook's meniscus injury in the 2013 playoffs ended their Finals hopes for that season. The Thunder then lost Serge Ibaka in 2014 for the first few games of the Western Conference Finals. OKC struggled to protect the basket without their premier defender, and despite an initial spurt in his return in Games 3 and 4, the injury quickly wore down Ibaka and proved too much to overcome. At that point, it was nearly impossible to steal four games from the Spurs.
While injuries can be partially blamed for OKC's past failures, the injury bug this season was almost entirely the reason why the Thunder did not make the playoffs. Are the Thunder too good for their own good?
As stated above, this team is a rare combination of stars and players of great importance. Like a game of Jenga, if you pull out one of the base pieces, the entire tower collapses. Once Durant was sidelined, it seemed like everyone gave up on championship hopes, which is understandable. But last year, OKC played the Spurs like air in Games 1 and 2: everything was getting through. The Thunder cannot afford to wait on luck and health because injuries are a part of the game.
I have always been a believer in ball movement. It almost never fails and it is a great scapegoat for when there is no go-to scorer on the floor. When Russell Westbrook was taken out for a break (which was rare), the Thunder looked lost.
Now they have a new coach in Billy Donovan who is ready to do something different in terms of offensive schemes. They need to move the ball, have capable jump shooters on the perimeter, and run efficient pick and rolls. I know that sounds easy to do but is was uncommon to see a nicely run set of plays (Popovich-esque) last year.
Many people blamed Durant's immense workload for his injury problems, and having an intricate system of getting KD open can help alleviate that pressure. It will also open up many more opportunities for the MVP to score, since it has been proven that passing is more efficient than ISOs every single play.
The Thunder's offseason need this year cannot be picked in the draft, and it can't be signed to a big contract. All they need is health.