Golden State Warriors: Comparisons To Other Contenders

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Oklahoma City Thunder

Apr 24, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) and guard Russell Westbrook (0) talk during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum. Memphis Grizzlies beat Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime 98 – 95. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Projected Starting Lineup

PG: Russell Westbrook

SG: Reggie Jackson

SF: Kevin Durant

PF: Serge Ibaka

C: Kendrick Perkins

Key Bench Players

Steven Adams, Nick Collison, Anthony Morrow, and Jeremy Lamb.

Head Coach

Scott Brooks, seventh year in Oklahoma City.


It’s hard to compete with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. That is, if you’re not the San Antonio Spurs.

Although the Thunder missed power forward Serge Ibaka for the first two games of the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs, they still would have lost with him. That’s how good the Spurs are.

Oklahoma City’s roster is essentially the same as last season, which isn’t a bad thing. A year of maturation for Steven Adams, Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson will improve the team and the addition of Anthony Morrow–who can really shoot the ball–should be enough to compete with the Spurs.

The Thunder and Warriors played high-scoring, fast-paced games against each other last season. Two ended with buzzer-beaters: Iguodala sank the Thunder at Oracle and Westbrook defeated the Warriors in Oklahoma City on a turn-around, fade-away three pointer.

Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Both teams improved over the offseason, but did the Warriors improve enough to overcome the MVP and his sidekick? Probably not. No starting five is better than the Thunder’s, but the Warriors’ bench is better than the Thunder’s. I expect third year guard Barnes to flourish under Kerr, and he will be much more comfortable playing with most of the starters and not being asked to lead the second unit.

Scott Brooks, the 2010 NBA Coach of the Year, is still leading Oklahoma City, but how much has he actually had to do with their success? With Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka, the Thunder have one of the most talented rosters.

Sure, it takes some leadership to take a poor franchise (previously the Seattle SuperSonics) and transform them into a winner, but he certainly had some help. Similar to Doc Rivers, Scott Brooks’ success has more to do with the talent on his team than his ability as a coach.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Kerr will ever become a good coach, but I do expect him to be an upgrade over Jackson, who didn’t know how to put all of his players in positions to succeed.

In order for the Warriors to surpass the Thunder, Kerr’s hiring needs to be a major success, they need to stay healthy and benefit from some help. For now, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the advantage over the Golden State Warriors.