It seems obvious to write this now that they are down 3-1.
The biggest reason the Thunder will lose this series, and what they will need to address in the offseason and via the draft, is their the lack of interior scoring.
Russell Westbrook can almost count as an interior scorer the way he gets to the rim, but the Thunder have no big men who can play with their backs to the basket. Serge Ibaka can hit a mid-range jumper, but he doesn’t have any smooth moves in the post.
In the NBA, the pure low post player has gone by the wayside with a handful of exceptions. The Thunder desperately need to acquire a scorer at the PF or C position to help carry the load.
I am a big fan of Kendrick Perkins and Ibaka as players. They are intense, and in Serge’s case extremely athletic. One of them has to go though. I know Thunder fans may be cursing at me through the computer right now, but regrettably one of these two has to be traded for an offensive-minded big man.
Perkins gives you absolutely nothing on the offensive end, so my inclination would be to put him on the trading block. I love his toughness down low and how he can handle other bigs, but the scoring center is diminishing, so why have a defensive center? If you can trade Perkins for either a scoring PF or C who can operate the block, OKC would be a much more complete team.
If you get a PF, Ibaka can play a smaller center and would be able to leave most centers on pick and rolls, knowing they will not knock down a free throw line jumper, and be able to protect the rim. Meanwhile, Ibaka’s ability to step out and hit a jump shot now and again is even more valued at the center spot as no one will want to close out on him.
I don’t know what the market will be for Perkins. Maybe it won’t be enough to get what they need. If that’s the case, throw in a second-round pick or the next two second-round picks.
This is the final step OKC needs to make in order to begin the new dynasty of the Western Conference, so they should seriously explore this option.