If good enough is good enough, practice ends early and the season will too.
Below the ears, the Oklahoma City Thunder is a great team. That top four inches causes them a lot of problems. They don’t play the smartest game of basketball. They don’t really run an offense.
They probably lead the league in shots taken without a single pass. I know they are near the top of the league in frustration fouls where they get mad about not getting a call so they immediately lash out and foul the other team.
None of those things can be seen as a positive. The biggest problem they have is humility.
The Thunder players carry themselves like they have won something when in reality, each season ends with a conversation about whether this year was more or less frustrating than other years.
Look, I’m a Thunder fan. Is Russell Westbrook frustrating? Yes.
But I can’t criticize the guy too harshly. His motor is always running. I have had a press pass for more than half of my life. I don’t pay for tickets. I go to games to work.
But I have paid to take my son to many Thunder games and we always have fun. You know why? Because unless his body is broken, Westbrook plays and plays hard. He doesn’t take nights off. He does take bad shots. He does act like a petulant child. But those things can be forgiven because most of it is based in the same competitive nature that makes him great. It is two sides of the same coin.
The Thunder are welcome to trade him. They could get a lot for him. About 25 NBA teams would love to complain about a guy who averaged a triple-double three years in a row.
Without Westbrook, this team is nowhere near the playoffs. Think how much less frustration there will be. It’s like Oklahoma Sooner football fans. They’ve been in the final four playoff three times and never won a game.
How many other teams wish they could lose a game that big?
It has everything to do with expectations. If you are 6-6 and win the Poulan Weedeater Bowl, don’t expect the guys who had a shot to win it all and lost to be jealous.
That being said, this Thunder team isn’t going anywhere as they are. They have no humility. Even after losing an embarrassing game where they led by 15 in the fourth quarter to see their season end, Paul George was talking about how the shot that beat them was a bad shot.
He isn’t wrong, per se. If the shot had been missed, people would have been critical.
It didn’t miss.
George’s attitude is a big reason the Thunder won’t take big steps forward.
Last year, the Trailblazers were humiliated after getting swept. It changed their mindset. They worked differently. They prepared differently. They lost a starter just before the playoffs and it hasn’t shaken them.
That won’t happen to the Thunder as they are now.
They are the big fish in a small pond. The expectation is that the fans and media will eat cat food and call it fine dining because Oklahoma City fans are supposed to appreciate their only professional franchise no matter what happens on the court.
I don’t blame Coach Billy Donovan for this team’s problems. I do blame him for not being able to steer the ship.
The iceberg is in plain sight for this team each year but the Titanic always hits it anyway.
The pieces of the puzzle are there. Donovan might be a great coach somewhere else. These personalities need to be managed differently. We have reached the precipice of Einstein’s witticism where doing the same thing over will surely yield the same results.
If good enough is good enough, just let fans know that making the playoffs and setting a few records along the way is the ultimate goal.
There are worse things.
If you want to win championships, something has to change.