The 2014 Oklahoma City Thunder seemed to have had it all with two hungry superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and a strong collection of defenders. The team seemed to be heading in the right direction, and they had a ton of hype to their name.
Unfortunately for them, they failed to make an NBA Finals and did not equal their success in 2012. But they had quite an interesting starting lineup that was very productive. Alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they build their roster around two big men and a defensive swingman to put pressure on opposing offended and stifle scoring ability. Interestingly enough, we are able to re-create the Thunder’s starting lineup from 2014 with current NBA players.
Using a mix of current NBA players who possess almost exact skillsets, here is the recreated version of the 2014 Oklahoma City Thunder lineup led by Durant and Westbrook.
Point Guard: Ja Morant for Russell Westbrook
OKC Westbrook was a scary player to watch. He was super athletic and played with pure aggression and rage. Russ was also a great playmaker despite claims of his selfishness, as he averages 8.3 APG for his career. Russ couldn’t be defended, because he was excellent at scoring inside and could assist the ball to his teammates at a very high clip.
The re-created version of him is Ja Morant. Morant has a love for the game like Russ and is also a fantastic playmaker. Morant steals the headlines a lot much like Russ, and their impact on the floor is very similar. Morant can’t really be defended because he can score inside or find the open man with ease. Morant is averaging 6.9 APG in his rookie season.
If there is a player that most resembles the 2014- Westbrook right now, it’s Ja Morant.
Shooting Guard: Matisse Thybulle for Andre Roberson
Andre Roberson took a lot of flack for not being able to shoot the ball well enough. He is a career 25.7% 3-point shooter which is putrid for a wing player. But that is not where his value lied for the Thunder. Roberson was one of the best on-ball defensive players in the league and he had long suffocating arms to help him stop the ball. Roberson also did all the dirty work and based his game off of hustle. He was truly a valuable piece to the Thunder in 2014.
The player closest to him right now is Mattias Thybulle. The player is a good defender who does the dirty work for his team, without having much of an offensive game. Thybulle has seen his stock increase in the league this season because his hard work on the court and defensive duties are impressive to watch.
He also isn’t much of a scorer and is averaging 4.7 PPG so this comparison is quite spot-on.
Small Forward: Brandon Ingram for Kevin Durant
KD was a phenomenon with the Thunder. He was so long, so athletic, and a great shooter from anywhere on the court. KD won an MVP Awards with the Thunder and 4 scoring titles, so clearly he is one of their best ever players. His long and lanky frame was iconic, and seeing him destroy defenses with his scoring ability is something Oklahoma City fans cherish to this day (when they aren’t booing him for leaving).
The closest comparison has to be Brandon Ingram. Ingram is built exactly like Kevin Durant, and have very similar skillsets. Ingram can shoot, dribble, and also moves like KD on the court. While Ingram has a long way to go to equal Durant’s impact on the league, he very closely resembles the way the latter plays the game. Ingram became an All-Star after averaging 24.2 PPG this year so time will tell if he can dominate the league as KD has.
Power Forward: Jaren Jackson Jr. For Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka won an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors, but he may have had his best years with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was the shot-blocking power forward who could stretch the floor with his mid-range shooting. Ibaka was a key defensive player for the Thunder and was also one of the fan favorites of the franchise. He played hard every night and had a toughness to him which was very impressive to see.
Jackson Jr. also possesses some of Ibaka’s qualities including shot-blocking ability and also the skillset to shoot the jumper. Jackson Jr. is a fan-favorite for the Memphis Grizzlies and one of their cornerstones of the franchise right now. They are both built the same way, with long arms and a strong frame, and seem to approach the game in the same way.
Center: Clint Capela for Steven Adams
Steven Adams earned his way to the starting lineup for the Thunder in 2014 because he proved that he could put his large frame to good use. Adams was, and still is, one of the most powerful players in the league, and his strength was of great use to OKC. He also had a soft touch around the rim and was a great rebounder for the team. Standing 7 feet tall, Adams was the enforcer of the 2014 Thunder.
Clint Capela comes to mind when you think of a 7-foot enforcer who does his damage in the paint. Capela is a defensive specialist who rebounds the ball at a high rate, using his height and size to impact the game. Capela, like Adams, is limited offensively although he has a feathery touch around the rim. Capela may have been traded from the Rockets but he has shown the ability to impact the game defensively and be a building block for a title-contending team.