2016-17 NBA Team Season Review: Oklahoma City Thunder

A previously unpredictable season ended as one of the most historic for the OKC thunder and their fans.

2016-17 NBA Team Season Review: Oklahoma City Thunder
Russel Westbrook has had a season for the ages.

After Kevin Durant's departure to the Golden State Warriors last summer, the fate of the Oklahoma City Thunder was left solely in the hands of Russell Westbrook as the franchise looked to bounce back.

The point guard was tipped for the MVP award during preseason, but at the same time, several people suggested that OKC may even struggle to reach the playoffs.

However, the Thunder have ended up securing the sixth seed in a bitterly competitive Western Conference and will finish with a total win count in the mid-high 40's.

Whilst that may mean a regression of any as nine wins from the 2015-16 campaign, the Thunder have still performed well with one of the younger cores in the NBA, and will now face the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.

Westbrook dancing his way to success. Photo: USA-TODAY Sports

Triple-Double Records

Without Westbrook this season, it's been worked out that the Thunder would barely have 25-30 wins to their name.

The MVP candidate, who has led the league in points per game this season with around 32, will also become the first player to finish the campaign with a triple-double average in over 50 years.

What's more, he also broke the record for triple-doubles in a single season, with Oscar Robertson's 41 during the 1961-62 season previously being the most.

It means that Westbrook has recorded a triple-double more frequently than every other game, only highlighting his mesmeric season leading the side.

Struggling Against Worse Teams

One of the Thunder's biggest weaknesses this season has been their performances against teams who are in the bottom half of each respective conference.

To start the month of March, Oklahoma City stuttered to four successive losses against Western Conference opponents with records of .500 or below, and since then they've lost to both the Phoenix Suns and the Charlotte Hornets.

What's more, the wins against the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic at the end of the month the Thunder were forced to come back from big margins - and whilst the win may seem heroic it actually offers more worries than it does positives.

OKC have also struggled away from home this season too. The side has lost away from home in two or more successive games on six separate occasions, proving the how difficult road trips have been for Billy Donovan's men.

Trade Success

The Thunder were busy both in the offseason and before February's trade deadline, with KD's departure not the only bit of business done by general manager Sam Presti.

With Serge Ibaka on an expiring contract, the Thunder made a play to bring in Victor OladipoErsan Ilyasova and also secured the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis.

Whilst Ilyasova was traded away just after the season began, Oladipo and Sabonis were both starters at the beginning of the campaign.

The former will finish the season with an impressive average around 16 points and 4.3 rebounds, however, Sabonis has fallen out of coach Donovan's starting five since February.

In addition to bringing in Jerami Grant three games into the season, the Thunder made further moves in Spring by trading in Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott.

Gibson, 31, has since made the starting four spot his own and has forced a solid defensive front-court with Steven Adams.

Steven Adams has again improved this season. Photo: USA-TODAY Sports

A Successful Season?

Although the Thunder have regressed and will face their main weakness - a three-point shooting team - in the first round of the playoffs, there's been plenty for the fan base to cheer about.

In the last 12 months Westbrook, Adams, and Oladipo have all committed their futures to the franchise and Sam Presti has done some impressive work to be able to bring in a lot of fresh, young faces.

However, if Durant had stayed, fans could only have imagined how well the team could've done - especially with the trading they've been able to pull off too.

As they are set to being their playoff series against James Harden and his Houston Rockets, it will be an uphill battle for the Thunder. OKC will have to find a way to win without Westbrook doing it all for the Thunder.

NBA