It was an odd season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. One of the preseason favorites to win the Western Conference – and perhaps an NBA title – the Thunder went 45-37, lost six of their last 10 games and missed the playoffs.
Based on that, you would think the Thunder underachieved.
But then you get to the injuries.
Kevin Durant (foot) was limited to just 27 games last season, while Russell Westbrook missed 15 of his own. Westbrook almost willed Oklahoma City to the playoffs, leading the team with 28.1 points, 7.8 assists and 2.1 steals, but it wasn’t enough.
Looking ahead to 2015-16, Oklahoma City’s No. 1 goal is simple: get healthy.
“Yes, for sure, for sure,” Thunder forward Serge Ibaka told Damon Amendolara and Bart Scott, who were filling in as hosts of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “This offseason has been huge for us. We’re trying to do the best we can to get back in shape and healthy. That’s our top focus – to be healthy for next season. If we are healthy, I think we can do something big.”
Whatever they do, it’ll be without Scott Brooks, who was fired after the season. Brooks, 49, spent seven years in Oklahoma City, leading the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals in three of the last five seasons and an NBA Finals appearance in 2012.
Ibaka was sad to see Brooks let go.
“Well, the truth is, it’s always tough to lose someone you’re used to,” Ibaka said. “He was my first coach in the NBA. Not only was he my coach, he was like my friend. I’ve known him for six years – since my first year in the league – and I was spending more time with him than my dad or my family. When you think all about that, it’s kind of hard. But the truth is, the NBA is a business. We have to support the team.”
Replacing Brooks is Billy Donovan, who led Florida to two national titles and four Final Four appearances in two decades with the program. This marks his first coaching foray into the NBA.
“He’s a nice guy,” Ibaka said. “He wants to help us. He wants everybody to get better. We know it isn’t going to be easy the first time. We’re going to do the best we can to stay together and get better like he wants us to.”