Oklahoma City Thunder Details
Fans in Oklahoma proved they could support an NBA team when the New Orleans Hornets were forced to play a majority of their home games in Oklahoma City in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and changed their name to the Thunder. The Thunder play at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and they are the only major pro sports team in Oklahoma.
The Thunder arrived in Oklahoma with many pieces already in place for their future success. The SuperSonics had already drafted Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Both players were on their way to becoming superstars by the time the Thunder made the playoffs for the first time in 2010. They made the NBA Finals for the first time in 2012, losing to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in five games. In 2014, Durant won the NBA MVP award, but the Thunder lost in the conference finals. After injury struggles caused the team to miss the playoffs in 2014-15, the Thunder returned to the Western Conference Finals in 2016 but lost to the Warriors in seven games.
After the Thunder’s playoff loss, Kevin Durant shocked the NBA by signing with the team that just eliminated him. Durant was the most coveted free agent of the 2016 offseason, and his signing with the Warriors made one of the all-time best teams even better. The Thunder moved on, resigning Russell Westbrook who responded with an incredible season in which he was the NBA’s MVP. During the season, Westbrook averaged 10.4 assists, 10.7 rebounds, and 31.6 points per game, making him the first player since 1962 to average a triple double. The Thunder returned to the playoffs as the West’s 3rd seed but lost in the first round to the Rockets.
Despite their early playoff exit, the Thunder should be able to build on Westbrook’s MVP season. During the offseason, the team acquired all-star small forward Paul George from the Pacers. Led by George and Westbrook, the Thunder should be among the top teams in a challenging Western Conference.