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Oklahoma City Thunder 2012 NBA Future Lines & Gambling Analysis

OKC Thunder Season Preview – NBA Predictions

The defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder haven’t made any drastic changes to their lineup, but if the old adage sticks true, why would they fix what simply isn’t broken? Heading into the 2012-13 season, OKC will be the favorites in the eyes of many to come out of the West, but they must get past a number of tough teams that have gotten tougher throughout the summer.  

Odds to win (By bovada.lv)
2013 NBA Championship: 9/2
2013 Western Conference: 9/5

Behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder have become one of the most exciting teams to watch in the entire NBA. Their energy is high, their pace is fast and they put up the third-most points of any team in the league last season. The best part about the Thunder is that they’re not a flash in the pan who excites but can’t produce; they win games, and they win a lot of them.

When it comes to OKC, it’s all about the Big Four. Durant is a three-time scoring champion at 24 years old, Westbrook epitomizes what today’s NBA point guard has become, James Harden can score in bunches and defend off the bench and Serge Ibaka is a complete shot-blocking machine. The four of them have quite the chemistry on the court, and at this point, the team goes a high as they will take them.

The Big Four is the reason for their success, but like every team in the NBA, the Thunder will have to fight through adversity at some point this season. Westbrook has been known in the past to increase his shots and decrease his facilitating. This wouldn’t be a problem if he were the go-to option, but with Durant on his side, he has to learn that he is No. 2, not No. 1. Harden is in a contract year, and while that might mean he’ll play his best basketball, it might also mean he is in distracting negotiations with the front office throughout the early part of the season. Ibaka is a strong shot blocker, but his one-on-one defense needs work, and his one-on-one offense is only just coming around.

All that being said, this team has found ways to get it done in the past despite those same hindrances, and while they’ll be faced with challenges this season, head coach Scott Brooks has done a tremendous job of grooming such a young squad to play like true veterans.

The only significant roster move made this summer was the drafting of Perry Jones III late in the first-round. The forward from Baylor was once considered a top-3 pick, but questions surrounding his true position and overall motor pushed him further and further away from the lottery. [ad-6571516]

If Jones turns out to be a steal, he’ll fit in nicely with the young Thunder squad. If he doesn’t, they let him go down the road and they’ll continue progressing without him. The move was low-risk, high-reward, which is a rare combo that the Thunder couldn’t resist.

Last season the Thunder finished second out West with a winning percentage of .712 and they ran away with the Northwest Division with nine games separating themselves and the second-place Denver Nuggets. An NBA Finals appearance was more than some expected for such a young group, but this team has grown up quickly. The Thunder won the first game of the series, but the experience of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat took over. The Thunder lost the series 1-4, and they’re looking to bounce back and find even greater success this season.

The big question this time is, can they get past their improved Western Conference foes without having made any major changes? The Los Angeles Lakers have added perennial All-Stars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the Nuggets have brought in a potential No. 1 option in Andre Iguodala and teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers are continuing to get better. Even the San Antonio Spurs are still a threat to OKC despite their age, and the season opener between the two of them will tell a tale of old versus young and their desires to win again this year.

Thunder Prediction

There’s plenty of competition out West, but the Thunder are no longer up-and-coming—they’ve arrived. The Thunder are one of the game’s most elite teams out West, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t be back in the Western Conference Finals competing for another championship this season.


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