I am going to mention Kevin Durant’s impending contract negotiations in the lede of this post, so we can pretend that this is about finance and not just an excuse to talk one last time this season about the Oklahoma City Thunder, the semi-official basketball team of Offbeat Wall Street. So here it goes: Kevin Durant’s contract negotiations.
Now, on to a larger point. The NBA Finals are going to start Thursday night, featuring two teams that are not the Oklahoma City Thunder. This is because the Thunder lost three consecutive gains to blow a 3-1 series lead. This everyone knows.
But let me lay out a scenario for next season that should be heartening to OKC fans and scary to the rest of the league. This is where I lay out at 9-point program that allows a team to improve dramatically, even though it was already good enough to push one of the 5 to 10 all-time best-ever NBA teams to a closely-fought game 7.
1) Kevin Durant re-signs for at least 1 year
2) Russell Westbrook locks himself in a gym over the summer and turns himself into a league-average three-point shooter
3) Enes Kanter becomes good enough at the corner 3 to make it in volume. Meanwhile, he locks himself in the same gym as Westbrook and becomes a non-embarrassing defender
4) Andre Roberson gets invited to Westbrook and Kanter’s gym and becomes a consistently non-embarrassing 3-point shooter
5) Playoff Billy Donovan shows up all season, and even improves by the start of the 2017 playoffs.
6) Playoff Serge Ibaka shows up all season
7) Dion Waiters learns to quit the dribbling and scoop-shot shenanigans and becomes a consistently reliable bench threat
8) Golden State comes off their peak slightly
9) San Antonio has trouble reloading their old-man roster and regresses as well