The Thunder’s Epic Failure

Rest assured, this topic will get more coverage from us. That said. Patrick reminded me he made the following remarks back in January!

In two years time, James Harden will want $10 million. And someone will pay him that much. Serge Ibaka will want $15 million. And lots of teams will pay him that much. What does OKC do then? Because neither are going to be replacable with the mid-level exception.

He had Ibaka and Harden switched a little on salaries. That said, the scenario played out just like Patrick said!

What you’re getting for me.

I’ve been immersed in a conversation about how overrated Westbrook is (and how underrated Ty Lawson is). In this I didn’t even bother bringing up James Harden. And while I was looking the other way, the Thunder have traded Harden and here’s how that looks:

Rockets get: 

Thunder get:

  • Kevin Martin
  • Jeremy Lamb
  • Two future first rounders
  • Future second rounder
  • Mockery from the entire internet

Stats for The NBA Geek

Last year Harden put up 10.6 wins in limited time. In limited minutes Aldrich played amazing.  In fact, the Rockets just picked up +14 wins for an 82 game season. This trade smacks of the Timberwolves trade that put Kevin Garnett in Boston. Remember how that turned out?

The Numbers

Here’s how the Thunder looked last season (via The NBA Geek)

Kevin Durant SF 66 2546 0.226 12.0
James Harden SG 62 1946 0.263 10.7
Serge Ibaka PF 66 1792 0.263 9.8
Russell Westbrook PG 66 2331 0.102 4.9
Nick Collison C 63 1307 0.124 3.4
Thabo Sefolosha SG 42 914 0.172 3.3
Daequan Cook SG 57 989 0.072 1.5
Kendrick Perkins C 65 1744 0.039 1.4
Cole Aldrich C 26 173 0.21 0.8
Nazr Mohammed C 63 692 0.041 0.6
Ryan Reid F 5 17 0.196 0.1
Eric Maynor PG 9 137 -0.016 -0.1
Royal Ivey PG 34 354 -0.034 -0.3
Reggie Jackson PG 45 501 -0.029 -0.3
Lazar Hayward SG 26 141 -0.121 -0.4
Derek Fisher PG 20 407 -0.071 -0.6

Look who is the second best player on the Thunder! That’s right, Harden was right up there with Durant. Arturo has even argued that Harden may be more valuable that Durant. The reason is that the Shooting Guard Position is typically the weakest.

I actually want to bring up more salt. It’s easy to remember that Harden faded down the stretch in the finals. This is true. However, going into the Finals, here were the Thunder’s Wins Produced numbers (via NerdNumbers)

Player Pos G MP WP48 WP
Kevin Durant 3.4 15 623.9 0.245 3.2
James Harden 2.5 15 466.0 0.244 2.4
Serge Ibaka 4.3 15 437.5 0.202 1.8
Russell Westbrook 1.3 15 555.6 0.116 1.4
Thabo Sefolosha 2.3 15 316.8 0.199 1.3
Nick Collison 4.4 15 248.6 0.119 0.6
Cole Aldrich 5.0 4 20.0 0.239 0.1
Daequan Cook 2.0 13 98.4 0.058 0.1
Derek Fisher 1.0 15 317.9 0.043 0.3
Lazar Hayward 3.0 4 13.7 0.086 0.0
Royal Ivey 2.0 4 18.0 -0.260 -0.1
Nazr Mohammed 5.0 8 82.6 -0.095 -0.2
Kendrick Perkins 5.0 15 400.9 -0.027 -0.2

It turns out that last season Harden was the second best player on the Thunder in the regular season and was great going into the finals. Now, I have no problem with the fact that Harden in his first finals couldn’t handle Dwyane Wade and LeBron James — who are both renowned for their defense and had been to three finals. (Yes, that’s me being subjective about a player. It happens!) Basically, to put this in perspective, this would be like the Bulls trading away Scottie Pippen after the 1990 season.

Summing Up

The Thunder got played. I’d like to point out that for all the credit Presti gets for using draft picks correctly, he’s just let a top player walk out the door. And the returns are terrible. Martin is years away from when he was relevant. James Harden ranked fourth on Arturo’s draft sheet. Jeremy Lamb? He ranks 25th! And this of course leaves out that Harden is at the ideal age, while Lamb won’t hit his peak for a while. Finally, the draft picks may be nice. Except, first thanks to this move the Rockets likely won’t be getting lottery picks. (Editor’s Note: wiLQ brings up a good point, I’m not sure if they got the picks from Houston or from Dallas/Toronto. Those may be better but I’m still not sold) Second, it’s questionable if the Thunder draft office is as good as people think. (Jeff Green? Westbrook?) So in the end, Daryl Morey manages to somehow get out of my doghouse, which is an amazing feat. And somehow the Bulls and Thunder, who have been terrific teams the last two seasons, get to collapse this offseason.


P.s. A brief followup. With Harden the Thunder were a title a team. They still had him under contract for another year. I am of the opinion that if you can’t get good value for your star, which they didn’t, you play for the title! The Thunder took themselves out of contention a year before they needed to. Giving myself more time to think about this trade just makes it look even worse.

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