Are Kevin Durant and the Thunder Really a Postseason Threat to the Lakers?

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder are viewed by some observers as the primary challengers to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference, and there are even a few who are predicting an upset.

Thunder fans are bolstered by the team's strong showing against the Lakers in last season's first-round playoff loss, and the impressive summer Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook had in Turkey during the FIBA World Championships.

Durant was named the most outstanding player in the tournament, as the United States won the gold for the first time in 16 years, and Westbrook was arguably the team's best defensive player.

Expectations are high for the young Thunder, but is it realistic to think they can unseat the Lakers based on last season's postseason showing and the continued development of their stars?

Oklahoma City extended the Lakers to six games last season, but Los Angeles still prevailed despite injuries to Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum.

Los Angeles improved in the offseason by adding depth at point guard, defensive help, and size in the interior, while the Thunder will rely on the same primary group of players who led them to the postseason.

Even though the Thunder should improve on last season's eighth place finish in the conference, it's hard for me to picture them beating a healthy Lakers' team in a seven-game series.

I'm sure a series would be competitive, but if the Thunder hope to defeat the Lakers there are several issues that will need to be addressed.

Any chance of a Thunder upset will begin in the paint, because in order to beat the Lakers you must first neutralize the strength of their team.

Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom exploited the Thunder's big men on the offensive end in last season's series, and none of Oklahoma City's players could return the favor.

I was impressed with the energy and ath...

About the Author