Can the Oklahoma City Thunder truly challenge for a championship?

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - NOVEMBER 3: Russell Westbrook #0 Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder look on during the game against the Boston Celtics on November 3, 2017 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Thunder currently sit at 26-16 and third in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Some people are saying Paul George is having an MVP caliber season and is a legit candidate to win the award.

But can we consider the Thunder to be a legitimate threat to win the NBA championship?

Let’s take a closer look.

Only eight of the 26 wins are against teams over the .500 mark.

They are 8-7 against current playoff teams.

Sometimes statistics can be a little misleading as well. Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, posting 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists a night.

However, he is shooting a career-worst 23% from the three and nothing special from the field (41%) or the line (63%).

Photo via: Getty Images

However, as mentioned before, George is playing at an MVP level. He is averaging nearly 27 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game while shooting 45% from the field.

He is taking care of the ball and playing both sides of the floor.

On top of that Dennis Schroder has been one of the best Sixth Men in the NBA this season, proving to be a valuable addition this offseason for the Thunder.

He is giving them 15 points and four assists a game off the bench.

So what does all this mean? The Thunder are clearly a playoff team but will they be a threat to teams like the Warriors, Celtics, Rockets, Raptors and Bucks? I can’t bring myself to say yes.

The reason for that comes down to Westbrook.

I think it is time to really look further than just the stat book.

Triple-doubles are great, but there are just some intangibles he doesn’t have in his game.

The number of times I have seen Westbrook turn the ball over or take a tough and heavily contested shot in the final two minutes of a crucial game has got to be over a couple dozen.

He couldn’t find a way to win with Kevin Durant and he and George’s lone playoff run together resulted in a first-round flameout.

He’s been blessed as a superstar to play with some of the best players of all-time in Durant, George and James Harden.

“This is why Kevin Durant left OKC,” says Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd after the latest batch of poor decisions by Westbrook against the Spurs which cost them the game.

The clip above again is from this season against the Timberwolves. A game where you are down two and have a player like George, who again is having an MVP-caliber season and Westbrook takes not one, but TWO contested three-pointers while shooting 23% from beyond the arc this season. Just unacceptable.

Listen, I am not trying to take a shot at Westbrook.

He is a great player and probably a Hall of Famer but there is a different type of greatness that comes with finding a way to win a title.

Realistically, he has had enough talent on his teams to get it done. One NBA Finals trip in 2012 against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, which resulted in a gentlemen’s sweep gives me no faith that he can do anything different.

A second-round playoff exit is the future I see for this Oklahoma City Thunder team.


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