I don’t know what I’m doing but I’ll tell you what I’m not doing — that’s predicting the Oklahoma City Thunder will soon be named NBA champions.
I’m saying that’s what it’s gon’ be. This is a very serious basketball blog that only deals in facts.
Truthfully, Vegas doesn’t love the odds of the Thunder winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy — but at +8000 you can RIGHT HERE!
Just kidding, that’s a Rick Roll. We don’t have any sponsors.
I’m just saying… If the Thunder do end up winning a title in Orlando, these are seven things that have to happen simultaneously. The perfect, hypothetical Thunder storm, if you will.
(1) Chris Summons The Point God
While Chris Paul has already proven the rumors of his decline were greatly exaggerated, he’ll need to go to completely new heights if the Thunder are going to shock the world and bring a trophy back to the 4-0-5. It almost goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) — if OKC has any chance of winning their first championship, CP3 will have to go Super Saiyan en route to his.
First title, that is. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard anyone talking about CP3’s history of playoff success.
But in this hypothetical path toward a championship parade in downtown Oklahoma City (a path which apparently includes a cure to you know what) — CP3 summons the Point God and leads the Thunder to glory like Washington crossing the Delaware. If he’s any worse than the best he’s ever been, go ahead and forget about this entire exercise.
Everything begins and ends with CP3. True title aspirations run directly through the floor general.
(2) SHAI Becomes A Superstar
At 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game prior to the shutdown, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 2019-20 season can already be considered an overwhelming success. However, if the Thunder are going to do something truly special, SGA will have to jump ahead a few chapters and immediately enter the Superstar portion of his career right now.
Shai is already taking roughly six more shots per game than he did in his rookie season at 14.8 FGA per game — but that is probably 20 or more in a scenario where OKC goes buck wild and wins a title. He’ll have to average 24-25 points per game and prove capable of running the offense (like he did in the final scrimmage against Portland) whenever Dennis Schroder leaves the team for the birth of his child.
I don’t know what Shai’s exact stats would have to be in order to win a title, though. I just know he’d just have to go bonkers.
Ridiculous shots like this one will also have to appear with higher frequency:
(3) They KEep RIDING THE CLUTCH
The Thunder were the best clutch-time team in the NBA prior to the shutdown — going 29-13 in a ridiculous 42 clutch finishes. That included several 20+-point comeback victories and wins over some of the league’s elite. Expecting that to remain after such a long layoff might be unrealistic but we sort of have to go there, right?
Playoff games are close, hard-fought battles and are often determined in the final minutes. If the Thunder are going to win a championship, winning in the clutch is something they’ll have to continue and perhaps even improve upon. Several game-winners and heart problems throughout the fan base are the only way this ends with a smile on our faces. Buckle up.
(4) Steven Stays Healthy
Steven Adams has a knack for playing through nagging injuries — something that is very admirable, yet detrimental to his utility in the postseason. He often looks great out of the starting block and progressively loses mobility as the regular season progresses. It’s just part of the Big Kiwi experience. He’s a tough guy.
However, the coronavirus may have inadvertently done Big Kiwi a solid with the extended layoff, as he enters resumption with a full tank of gas and springs in his legs. He looked great in limited action in the scrimmages and that level of health will need to stick around if the Thunder have any hope of making a run that ends in a ring-fitting.
If Adams can do this for the entirety of the Thunder’s stay in Orlando, I like the odds a lot more than I would otherwise:
(5) Dennis Pays For Rush Delivery
We know Dennis Schroder will leave the bubble to attend the birth of his second child — we just don’t know when, or how long, he’ll be gone.
As the third-leading scorer at 19 PPG, and part of Billy Donovan’s uber-successful 3-PG lineup, it goes without saying the Thunder can’t afford for Schroder to be gone very long. The timing on this sort of thing is entirely out of anyone’s control but OKC simply can’t win a title without the Sixth Man of the Year. It can’t happen.
As such, we all have to hope for a rushed (and most importantly, successful) delivery of Shrodie Baby #2. He can obviously take as much time as he needs… but for selfish reasons, I’m hopeful it’s a quick trip.
(6) Kids Grow Up/Bench Plays Like Starters
The Thunder is a young team that was expected to be in the lottery this season — but we all know how that turned out. In order to ride this improbable wave all the way to title town, OKC’s young guns have to become grown men and play that way throughout. Some role players also have to step way, way, way up, and punch above their weight classes.
Lu Dort, Darius Bazley, Hamidou Diallo, Nerlens Noel, and Andre Roberson — that’s the list of guys that have to completely lose their minds (on both ends) for this to work. Like basically every other individual player on this list, they’ll have to look better than ever if the Thunder hope to strike up some Disney Magic.
(7) Danilo Hits His Theme Music
Behind CP3 and Shai is Danilo Gallinari — perhaps the third-most important piece to a championship puzzle for the Thunder. He’s the second-leading scorer at 19.2 PPG and shooting just a shade under 41% from long range for the season. The man is an absolute weapon when he’s locked in.
Gallinari will need to shoot at least that well from deep — while even firing more than the 7.3 per game he was taking prior to the shutdown. OKC has a puncher’s chance against anyone if he goes fully automatic. I’ll get the full lyrics to his anthem tattooed on my back if it all comes together en route to a ring.