One-on-One

Thunder

When looking for the best team in the NBA, the search starts and stops in Tornado Alley. The Oklahoma City Thunder, who have sat atop the western conference standings for the majority of the season, are clearly the team to beat as we approach the playoffs.

While the Thunder may only have the second best record in the league, they have the deepest team in the league, featuring ten players who average at least 15 minutes per game.

They have three players in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden averaging at least 16 points per game and a pair of defensive big men in Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka who contribute nightly to the Thunder’s league-leading eight blocks per game.

Not to mention that Westbrook, Durant, Ibaka and Harden are all under the age of 24. The Thunder are here to win, and for a long time. Without guidance though, that young talent could go to waste.

So to complement the youth on the team, the Thunder have the championship experience of Perkins and former Lakers point guard Derek Fisher.

If things play out the way they should, I believe the Thunder will not only plow through whoever stands in their way out west, but will also bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy home to Oklahoma City, beating the Miami Heat in six games.

-David Israel

 

Spurs

The NBA is up for grabs this year. Who knows how Derrick Rose’s ankle will hold up? Can Miami finally win a title? Do the Los Angeles Lakers have too much drama?

I’ll take the San Antonio Spurs for $500, Alex.

This roster is full of players that are proven winners. Tony Parker is having one of the best seasons of his career and Tim Duncan doesn’t have much time left so this may be his final chance to win another NBA Championship.

Besides those two, this team is deep. Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw are all established players in the league. Combine that with coach Gregg Popovich, who has won a title four times, and this team is looking good for the playoffs.

Even while resting some of the older starters, the Spurs pulled off a 12-game winning streak starting in mid-March before barely losing to the Utah Jazz Monday without playing Parker, Duncan or Ginobili.

Popovich knows what he is doing. When the NBA was forced into a 50-game season in 1999 due to a lockout, which team hoisted up the trophy at the end of the season? The San Antonio Spurs. There will be no coincidence this year, because they will be holding it up again in June.

-Bobby Nightengale