Pregame – Why Are the Thunder So Great?
We all know that the Oklahoma City Thunder are a great basketball team, but why are they a great basketball team?
It all starts with Kevin Durant. That’s obvious. But the pieces Sam Presti, the Thunder’s general manager, has slotted in around Durant seem to fit perfectly.
One of the key players on Oklahoma City’s roster is starting small forward Serge Ibaka. This guy is known for his shot-blocking ability, but he has developed into a very good all around player.
“He’s the perfect complimentary player for them,” said Doc Rivers. “I’m always hesitant to call him a complimentary player. That somehow seems not good enough when you talk about Ibaka. He blocks shots, he rotates on defense, he makes the open shot, which stretches the defenses. It’s terrific, especially the way the game is played now, to have a big that can make shots past the free-throw line.”
The free-throw line, ironically, is what Rivers touched on moments later when discussing Oklahoma City’s recent acquisition, Kevin Martin. Martin has been phenomenal off of the bench while replacing James Harden. Martin is shooting at an incredible rate from all over the floor, but Rivers pointed to Martin’s free throw shooting as a key.
“What Martin does for them as well is he gets to the foul line. So did Harden, by the way, but Martin does that too,” said Rivers. “When you can get a guard that can get to the foul line, that really allows you to set your defense more than just a jump shot.”
There are a lot of reasons why the Thunder are 9-3 entering play tonight. Their roster goes well beyond Durant and fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook.