NBA Betting Analysis: Can the Thunder Keep Kevin Durant?

Posted by Mila Anderson on July 23, 2015 in

As the Oklahoma City Thunder move toward 2015-16, their primary purpose must be to keep Kevin Durant from wanting to go to greener pastures. This will be his final season under contract, when he will be due $21 million. His team still needs to figure out whether it is stuck in that rut it has been wobbling in since James Harden ended up in Houston, or whether it is ready to remake its identity and is prepared to contend this year and beyond. The view that Durant has about his team will determine where he heads – and where the team goes. After this NBA betting season, the arrival of a boatload of new TV money means that the salary cap will shoot up dramatically. Durant will be able to write his own ticket with the funds available for teams to spend.

NBA Betting Analysis: Can the Thunder Keep Kevin Durant?



This had to be a major reason behind the team’s desire to dump Scott Brooks – an even-keel, successful coach without a lot of pizzazz – for Billy Donovan from the University of Florida. Donovan has built a track record of success with the Gators but has no NBA experience. If his schemes can work well, though, the only reason why the Thunder would not return to the playoffs – and advance several rounds – would be the health of the team. The answer to that question also lies with Kevin Durant, who only played 27 games in 2014-2015 because of two surgeries on his foot. If you don’t think foot problems are a big red flag, check out the non-career of Sam Bowie and the shortened career of Bill Walton. Foot problems are chronic by nature and often never quite go away, leaving the player hobbled for the rest of his days. In addition to Durant, though, Russell Westbrook sat out 15 games, and Serge Ibaka had to miss 18. These three are the last remaining titans from the Oklahoma City team that went to the NBA Finals in 2012, and these three are the biggest salaries on the team as well.

If the Thunder are going to contend and keep Kevin Durant happy, the performance of two new players – center Enes Kanter and shooting guard Dion Walters – will be a major determining factor. The team possesses five big offensive choices and also features a deep bench. Steven Adams was the starting center and will still push Kanter because of his rebounding and defense. Mitch McGary also has demonstrated that his future in the league is bright – if he can keep injury-free. Veteran guards D.J. Augustin and Anthony Morrow are solid bench contributors who are relatively inexpensive assets.

If the Thunder can get off to a quick start – and Durant can stay in the lineup – then expect them to be major players in the Western Conference once again. They almost roared back into contention at the end of last season, but losing Ibaka made a big hole in the center of the floor that they just couldn’t fill. A healthy Thunder team is as good as any of the rest of the West – even Golden State. With that positive vibe in place, there’s no reason why the Thunder can’t keep Thunder in the fold and continue to contend for years to come.

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