About a decade ago the Thunder were contenders and even had a finals appearance. Last season OKC barely won over 20 games and were a kicking post for the other teams. How did the Thunder fall from grace and never win a title?
There are three big reasons why OKC never won a final and disbanded. Their stars left them to join other teams, injuries, and other super teams they played against. Let’s go on a nostigacitc ride of the OKC big three.
Before OKC was the Thunder they were the SuperSonics, and the first season to note (of this story) is 2006-07. They were a lottery team and drafted Kevin Durant number one overall. They were not good right off the bat (they were actually worse in 2007-08).
With that season’s lottery pick they drafted Russel Westbrook; the team slightly improved, but by much. After the 2008-07 year they moved to OKC and drafted James Harden (first pick as OKC). The team finally was back in the playoffs and lost to the evently champions the Lakers.
It was all going well and it was about to get better. The team finished with a 55 year win total and was a finals contender. They lost to the Mavs (they eventually won the finals), but had a lot of hype.
Finals, Trades, and Injuries
Okc next season found themselves in a finals match-up against the Heat (A Lebron lead team). They lost in five, but still had a lot of potential. This was seen as a team that could be back for years to come, no one knew the tradery that was heading to OKC.
The first move that will eventually bite this team, was trading James Harden to Houstin. The Thunder front office was worrying about James’ contract and salary cap (remember at this time Harden was not a superstar).
The Thunder young roster was starting to break up, however they were still dominant. The years leading up to 2015-16, OKC was always a team that won 45 or more games. The biggest reason why they never went back to finals was injuries.
2012-13 was wiped out by a Russel Westbrook injury (ironically to Houstin). In 2013-14 they lost to another eventual champion, The Spurs. The next season Durnat got hurt and the Thunder could not reach the postseason.
At this point the Thunder seemed as a team that would never reach their potential, however in 2015-16 they had another chance. They beat the Spurs to advance to the conference championship. Their opponent was the 73-9 Warriors, and they were huge underdogs.
It’s actually almost poetic that these two teams met in the conference finals, because they both will suffer the same exit. Game 1 the Warriors get out played and then they win game 2. The Thunder responded to that loss by winning the next two games.
The world was going crazy, the Warriors were shocked. However, Golden State will come back and win the series. This was the series that ruined any title hopes in OKC.
The Warriors end up blowing a 3-1 lead against the Cavs, so what do both clubs do. The Thunder could not sign an extension to Durant, so he snaked the Thunder. He signed with the Warriors and became a dynasty.
The Thunder choked away many years of championships. Then Golden State stole their best player. It must be heartbreaking that Durant led the Warriors to two straight rings.
This shows you that nothing is for certain in basketball. Besides injuries, they got unlucky and lost to five teams that ended up winning a championship. The Thunder never recovered from losing Durant and lost Westbrook a couple years later.