Just like clockwork, the Oklahoma City Thunder have yet again been eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
After finishing just shy of 50 wins and placing sixth in the Western Conference, many thought the Thunder would be a real threat to take down the Golden State Warriors.
But after another disappointing playoff run, the Thunder were bounced from the playoffs in the first round for the third-straight season.
Now, since Carmelo Anthony – whom the Thunder seemed to blame for their past failures – is no longer on the team, he can no longer be used as the scapegoat. It is time for the Thunder to take a long look in the mirror and make some changes.
The first thing that needs to happen in Oklahoma City is the firing of Head Coach Billy Donavon.
Sure, Donavon has never missed the playoffs, but he has been mediocre at best in the regular season.
In his four seasons with the team, he has eclipsed the 50-win threshold just once, and that was when the second-best player in the NBA, Kevin Durant, was on the roster.
Since Durant’s departure, the team hasn’t won more than 50 games, and that is with one of the most talented rosters in the league.
While Donavon has been mediocre during the regular season, he has been awful in the postseason.
He has only advanced further than the first round once in his four years, and again this was when he had Durant on his roster.
Something else that needs to be different in order for the Thunder to be successful is the play of their star point guard, Russell Westbrook.
Yes, Westbrook is one of the best players in the entire league and even averages a triple-double, but that only gets you so far.
Now I’m not saying the Thunder should trade Westbrook, but he needs to improve a couple aspects of his game if he ever wants to win.
The first is his 3-point shooting. Westbrook acts as if he is a 3-point sniper, but in reality, he isn’t.
He shoots almost six 3-point field goals per game and shoots under 30%, which is awful.
But what is his biggest problem?
He turns the ball over far too much.
Westbrook averages almost five turnovers per game, which was the second most in the NBA last season.
This is just unacceptable for a point guard of his caliber.
Sure, the triple-doubles are impressive and may even win him MVP trophies, but if he wants rings, his game needs to change.
The final problem the Thunder need to fix is their surrounding cast.
Yes, the Thunder have one of the most talented duos in the NBA with Westbrook and Paul George, but the rest of the team could use a makeover.
Oklahoma City lives and dies by the 3-pointer, yet they don’t have any good 3-point shooters on their roster.
They took almost 33 attempts per game this season from behind the arc and made just 34% of them.
The Thunder need to rebuild their roster in the offseason by surrounding Westbrook and George with shooters.
If they don’t make changes, the Thunder will continue to fail in the playoffs and be the biggest disappointment in the NBA.