The season didn’t end the way we wanted it to. But we did learn a lot from the season. After months and months of trial and tribulation, Coach Donovan and OKC were still not able to find that line up that was unstoppable.
Playing Adams and Kanter worked well but it was not seen a whole lot in the regular season and was almost never seen in the playoffs. This line-up would be great, BUT there is a unique line-up that no team in the entire league could stop. Not LeBron and the Cavs, not Curry and the Warriors, not Noel and the 76ers.
The ultra-big line-up.
If you have listened to Thunder Nation’s podcast (which I HIGHLY suggest) you have heard me debate Dillon (Team Content Manage of TN) at nauseam on why this line-up is the best line-up for the Thunder. After a lot of convincing I think he has joined the tall-side. Here is why this line-up needs to happen and would be the most effective line-up in the NBA.The line-up would feature Westbrook at point guard, Durant at shooting guard, Ibaka at small forward, Kanter at power forward, and Adams to round it out at center.
Westbrook is going to do his thing at point guard. Attack the basket and spread the ball to teammates while grabbing boards left and right. Durant is a straight up scorer, he is going to get his points and spread the floor for others to work. Ibaka has evolved his game and people have criticized him. People say he has become jump shooter and is living at the three-point line too much. Now that might be true but his percentage from three was not bad in his career shooting just under 40%. Add his deadly midrange game, who former coach Brooks praised and said he was the best from 15 feet on the team, and he is a deadly weapon that wouldn’t have to bang in the paint like he would at power forward. But it does give him the option to do both at the small forward position.
Kanter at the four has been seen before and was hailed as one of the best line-ups for OKC, the only problem is his defense, but with Adams and Ibaka, what he is lacking on that end will be made up for on the offensive side of the ball. His defensive was also much better in the post-season and that is something all Thunder fans are hoping they will continue to see out of him. Then comes Adams at center, which we have seen time after time. He is a defensive stud but just can’t seem to get his scoring to show up on a consistent basis. If he can get going he is a dual threat, but with Kanter in the paint banging around and grabbing offensive rebounds, Adams would almost not be needed on that end of the floor.
Now I hear you screaming at your computer screen, “who are they all going to guard?!?!”
Great question, let’s look at the defending Champs.The Cavs have a line-up (right now) of Kyrie, Smith, James, Love, Thompson. Westbrook on Kyrie is obvious. Both are explosive guards that try to drive and dish but can knock down a three when needed. Smith would be covered by Durant. Durant isn’t the greatest defender ever so getting him off of LeBron would actually help the Thunder. And JR can score but not at a LeBron pace. Ibaka on LeBron is one that people would question. LeBron has become a slasher, not a jump shooter. Ibaka has prided his self on defense and is known as one of the best shot blockers in the league. He can do a chase down block if LeBron gets by him. He also has the length that can give LeBron some problems. LeBron also can’t back down Ibaka, due to his sheer size. Kanter on Love would be great because Love’s offense has been missing and Kanter’s defense is the same place as Love’s scoring. Adams on Thompson would be in favor of Adams due to the size difference. Adams can just reach up over Thompson and grab boards on both sides of the court.
On the flipside, Kyrie on Westbrook is fine. JR on Durant would cause major problems, and Durant would drop 40. The Cavs would probably play Shumpert to stop the bleeding. LeBron on Ibaka would probably leave Ibaka scratching his head and with no points, but that is okay because Durant dropped 40. Kanter would destroy Love, I mean utterly destroy Love. Love may be able to spread the floor but he is a defensive liability. Then Adams would be able to get second chance points and that is all he would really need to do. Thompson gives 100% and I love him as a player but he would have a tough time keeping Adams off the glass. More questions on how the Cavs would guard the Thunder than vice versa.
Take a look at the Warriors. Westbrook would take Curry. Curry is going to get his (unless it’s the playoffs) but Westbrook will cover him well enough. Durant will take Klay, and that is the most worrisome of the bunch. Klay can be an unstoppable force so Durant would need to contain him as much as he could but canceling him out on the other end of the floor would be the best case for OKC. Ibaka will cover Iggy. Iggy can get hot at times but Ibaka will shut him down. Length and defensive prowess will outweigh anything Iggy can and will do. Kanter on Barnes. Hahahahaha. Barnes couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. I don’t care how bad you THINK Kanter’s defense is, he can limit to cancel out Barnes. Adams on Green. As long as Green doesn’t kick Adams in the land down under, Adams did very well at shutting down Green. Adams is a great defensive player and that was put on notice when he was able to limit Green.
Then the flipside. This is gonna be a joke, I’m sorry in advance.
Curry guards? That right there is why this line-up is perfect. Curry can’t guard anyone on the court with this line-up. So Curry has to guard Westbrook, which equals 40 for Westbrook. Klay guards Durant, and honestly he would do alright with that but Durant could shoot over him and get 20. Iggy has to guard Ibaka. At the three-point line he would be able to handle Ibaka to an extent but if Ibaka drives or post up, that’s two points 90% of the time. Kanter will straight manhandle Barnes. Barnes is a small forward playing power forward. Kanter would back him down and dominate the paint. Then Adams would be covered by Green. We have seen them two go at it time and time again, and it would be the same thing as usual. Adams would be aggressive and grab a couple boards and get second chance points. Thunder would destroy the Warriors with that line-up.
The big line-up would best any starting line-up in the league right now. I would break down every team’s starting line-up if it wouldn’t end up being a 15,000-word article. The Thunder are still looking for that killer line-up and I have just found it for them. Listen up Coach Donovan.
If you have any teams that you think could be that line-up please comment in the comments below so I can break it down for you.