The Golden State Warriors are taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight. Here is Blue Man Hoop’s Q&A with FanSided site Thunderous Intentions’ expert Tamberlyn Richardson.
The Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City are entering a new phase of their rivalry. Kevin Durant became a champion for the first time last summer while Russell Westbrook secured the MVP award. As the Warriors celebrated their second title in three years, the Thunder went out and traded for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in an effort to create a roster that could dethrone the Dubs.
As the two teams prepare to face off, the Warriors are sitting atop the Western Conference with the same record as the Houston Rockets. If the playoffs started today, they would be on the outside looking in. They’re sitting in the 10th spot in the West with a 7-9 record.
OKC is still learning how to incorporate two All-Stars into the reigning MVP’s team, especially during clutch time. Despite that, it isn’t a stretch to say that they’ll be locked in for their game against the Warriors. Everyone gets up for Golden State.
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We spoke with Tamberlyn Richardson, site expert for FanSided’s OKC site Thunderous Intentions. We answered some questions for them and they were kind enough to return the favor. Check out the questions and Richardson’s responses below.
1) What is the general OKC attitude towards Kevin Durant? Has it softened or is it still a sore subject?
It depends on who you ask. The majority of OKC Thunder fans focus on the here and now. Given the load Russell Westbrook had to carry last season Thunder Nation was thrilled by the aggressive offseason activity. For a young franchise perhaps OKC has been spoiled by success. Yet, much in the same vein as the Spurs’ identity is continued excellence; the Thunder has a similar mandate.
That said, fans were invested in Kevin Durant. There was bewilderment when he left. Not because he left, more so how it was handled. Perhaps if Durant had done something similar to Chris Paul with a sign and trade his exit would’ve been more palatable. For those who felt a true sense of abandonment, it hasn’t helped post-exit to learn he made his mind up long beforehand. Ultimately it’s a business and fans understand, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
2) If you were Billy Donovan, what would you do to try to right the ship?
Talk about a loaded question, lol. Donovan is known to be a coach who likes to test different lineups throughout the season. Unfortunately, this isn’t the season for this strategy. It would behoove Donovan to stick with consistency (in terms of rotations and lineups). This so the OK3 and other new roster additions can develop chemistry.
The Thunder tends to have amazing first quarters and trail off culminating in terrible final frames. Defensively the squad is fine for the most part, but the lack of player or ball movement is crippling the team. There isn’t any guesswork for opposing squads because invariably everyone is standing still playing iso ball. Donovan doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel, but running more plays off screens and having Paul George handle the ball more sure would be a great start.
Finally, Billy needs to either commit to playing Dakari Johnson or Patrick Patterson at the five. And if he won’t then Sam Presti needs to go shopping for another center.
3) What do you think is this OKC team’s ceiling? Can they give the Warriors a run for their money?
Like you, preseason I felt the OKC Thunder potentially offered the Warriors greatest challenge. Unfortunately, through 16 games fans have only seen glimpses of what the Thunder could be. The season is still young, so the hope is the OK3 will discover an organic offensive flow soon. We’re approaching the quarter mark (20 games), so if the Thunder doesn’t start clicking by Christmas I think the current questions will only grow in volume and frequency.
If OKC can develop an offensive identity they do pose a problem for the Warriors. Particularly because the very few weaknesses the Warriors showcase are the precise areas the Thunder excel in (as we discussed in the TIP3).
As for the Warriors, it feels like they are toying with teams and simply looking for motivation. In their current iteration, the Thunder won’t pose a problem for the Dubs. But, if they find that elusive chemistry and add one more big to the mix their star power (specifically one – Russell Westbrook) still might offer the Dubs greatest challenge.