The impending NBA bubble is just a few weeks away, and the excitement is brewing. It’s brewing for us all, and that’s why we couldn’t help but to curate who we believe are the best teams in the bubble. We’ll call them the “Exclusive Eight.”
As you probably assumed, there are eight teams that we’ll count down before the league’s resumption, and we’re going to count down in reverse-numerical order, starting from eighth. We’re just trying to maintain a suspenseful vibe.
So, let’s do it.
8th, Oklahoma City Thunder: (40-24)
The Thunder made this list over the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, and Indiana Pacers because they’re better than those teams. Additionally, their upside going into the bubble is higher than the other three teams. An elder like Chris Paul needed the rest, and he got it. A roughed-up Steven Adams got a chance to rest and heal as well. Andre Roberson, OKC’s former chief perimeter protector, could be back after 2.5 years away from the game.
That’s not to mention OKC’s perfect mix of productive, young players who are itching to get back on the court after finding their stride after the all-star break. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is still on a high from his big-time Converse deal. He’s going to be excited to get back on the court. Dennis Schröder wants that Sixth Man of the Year award. Trust me, he does. Terrance Ferguson has a clear mind, clear of all external distractions, and has something to prove. And speaking of something to prove, Luguentz Dort is ready to prove that he’s worth the full NBA contract that he received a couple of weeks ago. Not to mention Darius Bazley, who has held his own all season when he’s received playing time and Nerlens Noel, who has been solid all season long.
Former Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins echoes our exact thoughts:
Barring something drastic and unlikely happening to the top of this list, the Thunder aren’t going to win an NBA title, or even compete for one. But there isn’t a team that wants to play them in a playoff series either.