As most know by now, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder have agreed to a contract extension.
Westbrook was rumored to be departing the Thunder next offseason and was involved in a variety of trade rumors, so this comes as a surprise to many. Though this will be his first year without partner in crime Kevin Durant (*sigh*), he remains committed to OKC. Westbrook's contract is now in the top 3 of average annual value.
For the Thunder, this is a great move by them to ensure that they will have extra years of having a bonafide superstar help their rebuild. Though they are without KD, this Thunder team still has talent. They traded for Oladipo (who quietly was one of their best players behind possibly Vucevic) to strengthen their backcourt. Their frontcourt led by Kanter and Adams is solid. Coming off the bench is young and solid pieces in Roberson and Payne. I could honestly see them getting at best a 5-7 seed (worst case they get the 8 seed). Here are my Western Conference playoff predictions for this upcoming year.
2016-17 Western Conference Playoff Predictions
Golden State Warriors
San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers
Portland Trail Blazers
Oklahoma City Thunder
New Orleans Pelicans
As for Russell Westbrook, this is a chance for him to strengthen his legacy and show the NBA if he can live up to being the MAN in OKC. I think he can do that easily. Remember the 2014-15 NBA season where KD played only 27 games due to injuries. Well, the Thunder with Russell Westbrook were a lucky Anthony Davis 3 from making the playoffs. Now with an improved team (relative to 2014-15), the Thunder can make the playoffs in this tough Western Conference. I don't see them winning a ring, but honestly who does with Golden State being in the same conference. This is a win-win for both sides, and if worse comes to wear, then Westbrook can leave after his contract expires.
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