The NBA has been a whirlwind the past few days with so many big names and small names changing teams that it will take a few days for everyone to sort out who went where. The landscape has changed and seemingly the balance of power in the league has shifted east. When the East is interesting, the league is interesting so this has to be a good thing right? So once the dust settles who will be the big winner in all of this?
I’m sure you think I’ve lost my mind but hear me out. Carmelo Anthony has moved to the Knicks and Deron Williams has moved to the Nets. The already talent filled Eastern Conference now has the chance of fielding more contenders for the championship. If the Nets and Knicks can build teams around their new stars they will have to deal with the Heat, Bulls, Orlando, and the seemingly ageless Celtics. Meanwhile, in the Western Conference the Lakers and Spurs are getting older and will take large steps back (more like leaps) once Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan take their final bows. No one takes the Mavericks seriously at all so while they will win some games, they aren’t a real threat. The only other possible contender in the West is the Clippers and standout rookie Blake Griffin. But it’s the Clippers, so there’s bound to be some catastrophe around the corner that will cripple them and send them back into the NBA Draft Lottery…again.
This leaves the door wide open for the young Oklahoma City Thunder and their emerging superstar Kevin Durant. While the Eastern Conference teams beat up on one another, Durant and the Thunder will have to play against such competition as the Warriors, new look Jazz, Kings, and Timberwolves. I’m not trying to suggest any game in the NBA is an easy win, but I’d much rather play those teams multiple times than have to contend with the Heat, Bulls, Orlando, Knicks, and Nets for position and then face them again in the playoffs.
Durant is 22 years old and has already signed an extension to remain with the Thunder through 2015. He is on par to lead the league in scoring again this year (and barring injury, for years to come). Durant is by all accounts a great teammate and, while the team is young, they have great chemistry almost growing up together like a family. The Thunder’s management has made smart moves in the draft and made some key trades which continue to move the team in the right direction. Today the team acquired Kendrick Perkins, a rebounder they desperately need and became a very tough team to beat in a game let alone a playoff series. They have also cleared some cap space which indicates they will likely re-sign Russell Westbrook, their All-Star point guard and keep their young core together for years to come.
So while other big names make big moves and big splashes in new cities there is a player sitting in a small city, likely listening to music and playing video games (per his twitter), who hasn’t said a word. He’d probably never admit it but deep down, I’m sure he’s smiling.