Oklahoma City, OK – Denver Nuggets fans, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that our team had a nice year, made the playoffs, and pushed the Lakers to a seventh game in the first round. The Nuggets also look to be a very good young team, who have some interesting pieces and parts that may keep getting better and better. The core of Lawson, Gallinari, Faried, Afflalo, and McGee have the potential to grow together and become a very formidable squad for many years to come. This is great news considering that many fans and critics thought Denver may stumble into becoming an instant loser after the Carmelo Anthony trade 16 months ago. The Nuggets showed a ton of promise at the tail end of this season, and fans have a lot to be excited about going forward. There is a problem though. One that is lurking not too far from us to our southeast, gaining momentum and showing no signs of weakening at all. I am speaking of the team that will face the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Remember how several teams in the 90′s could never win a championship because they had to face the Chicago Bulls, year in and year out? The Knicks, behind Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, came close a few times, but always seemed to be thwarted by Michael Jordan and the Bulls. The 76ers and Suns, with Charles Barkley, was the same story. Indiana came close too, and with Reggie Miller pushed Chicago but never quite got it done. Karl Malone and John Stockton could have had a title had Chicago not been in their way. These teams, in a lot of other years and eras, had enough to win rings. But the problem was that Jordan was always in the way, and was just a little bit better. I can see the same thing happening during the next decade. But instead of Jordan, this time it will be Kevin Durant and the Thunder, not allowing anyone else in the West to win a championship. They are going to be that good, folks. The start of the Thunder’s dynasty begins now. 3, 4, 5 championships by 2020 would not surprise me at all. Needless to say, this is going to be very bad news for anyone in Oklahoma City’s division, including our Denver Nuggets.
The Thunder’s core group are all ridiculously young. Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and Ibaka have not even really hit their prime yet. They are merely scratching the surface of what they are about to become, before our very eyes. This series against the Heat is going to be phenomenal, as it will be a showcase of several amazing athletes on both teams. Oklahoma City is about to take the NBA by storm, and the days of Kobe, Dirk, and Duncan winning championships are history. As I see it, there are three things that could potentially derail the Thunder from dominating for years to come. One is injuries. If either Durant or Westbrook, for some unfortunate reason were to be seriously injured, this could definitely change things. Another would be if egos begin to arise. I am not worried about Kevin Durant in this regard at all. He has shown a maturity that is light years beyond his age. If Russell Westbrook though, were to start feeling like he wanted to be “the man” and thus caused problems, this could potentially derail their future momentum. The last could be key players like James Harden or Serge Ibaka, heading elsewhere via free agency to cash in on possible huge offers from other teams. If the Thunder can avoid these potential pitfalls, multiple championships should be in their future.
Regardless of how this plays out, the next few years of games between the Nuggets and Thunder will be a ton of fun to watch. I could see this really developing into a fantastic rivalry in their division, and one of the best in the entire NBA. Two young teams with good, deep rosters to battle each other with. There is one difference that may end tilting the edge to Oklahoma City however….they have Kevin Durant, and well….the Nuggets don’t.
Denver Sports by J Simp