Much can be said about the all-time great OKC Thunder roster that would have featured 3 MVPs on one roster. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden were all drafted by the Thunder and played with each other for 3 years. They even reached the NBA Finals in 2012, only to fall short to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 5 games.
Individually, each player has had tremendous success and is destined for the Hall of Fame. Kevin Durant is a 2-time MVP, 2-time NBA champion, 2-time Finals MVP, and 4-time scoring champion. Russell Westbrook has an MVP Award, 2 scoring titles, and is probably the greatest stat-stuffing point guard in NBA history as he averaged a triple-double for 3 straight years. James Harden, the Beard, is an MVP and has 3 straight scoring titles with enough evidence to suggest he might be one of the greatest isolation scorers of all-time.
Clearly, each player’s talent leads to the question: how many NBA titles would the Thunder have won if the Big Three stayed in Oklahoma City?
Durant’s Desire To Play Team Ball, Westbrook’s Attitude, And Harden’s Belief In Himself
Kevin Durant is an all-time great player, and one of the best scorers of all-time. Durant is one of four players to have at least 4 scoring titles, and his ability to score makes him one of the most unstoppable players in NBA history. When the Thunder had Kevin Durant, they had a superstar that was capable of leading them to the NBA Finals which he did.
Alongside him was Russell Westbrook, the most athletic point guard in NBA history, and certainly one of the most aggressive. Westbrook was an extremely raw point guard early on in his career, as he lacked an efficient jumper and wasn’t a pure playmaker. His potential and talent were still through the roof and his partnership with Durant was expected to be the most dominant in the league. The third piece to the puzzle was James Harden, a powerful shooting guard who was the best playmaker on OKC and a very effective scorer as well.
Harden prospered in a 6th Man role, and his ability to dominate games from the bench was a major factor in the Thunder reaching the 2012 NBA Finals. After losing to the Miami Heat, the Thunder knew they had to decide part ways with either James Harden or defensive big man Serge Ibaka. This is where the breakup of Oklahoma’s fantastic three began.
First, the Thunder opted to keep Serge Ibaka at the expense of Harden. OKC had Westbrook and Durant already, and a big man-made more sense for the team. James Harden knew he was better than being a bench player, and his impact with his new team Houston Rockets was immediate. Harden dropped 37 points and 12 assists in his debut 8 years ago and hasn’t looked back since by winning an MVP Award and multiple scoring titles in that span. Kevin Durant was the next to leave, after failing to make the Finals again with Westbrook by his side.
Durant left to form the greatest superteam in our generation with the Golden State Warriors in the free agency period of 2017. Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green ran through the league en route to 2 rings in 3 appearances and also completing a 73-9 record in the 2018 season. Durant knew he wouldn’t win with Westbrook because the point guard lacked composure on the ball and his lack of efficient shooting was a major weakness for the Thunder. Durant opted to play with more ball movement and with unselfish players like Curry, which was still one of the most shocking decisions in NBA history.
The last to leave was Russell Westbrook, who was shockingly traded to the Houston Rockets after the Thunder started fresh. After losing Durant, OKC regrouped quickly by trading for Indiana Pacers star Paul George but the Thunder couldn’t even make a Conference Finals. Westbrook was traded, and the era of the Oklahoma City Thunder competing for titles officially ended.
OKC Thunder’s Big Three Would Have At Least 3 Rings By Now
If Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden stayed together; they would have had at least 3 NBA rings with the Thunder. The reason is simple: Kevin Durant would not have formed the most unstoppable team over the past decade and the league would be more wide open. The Thunder would have actually had the unstoppable superteam.
Kevin Durant would have retained his place as the second-best player in the NBA after LeBron James, and arguably the best scorer. Russell Westbrook would have developed into the triple-double machine that he is now, and refined his game more to get a dominant playmaker. The key here is James Harden, who might not have become the player he was today if he remained with the Thunder. But even if Harden remained the 6th Man, his talent would be too much for the league to handle off the bench.
Considering Harden would at least improve his game to an All-Star level, the Thunder would have too much talent for anyone to deal with. The Thunder lost to the Miami Heat in 2012, but that was just due to growing pains. The Thunder were babies in 2012, and it was expected LeBron James and the Miami Heat would take them apart. If they stuck together and went through the trenches together, there might be a season where they could have knocked off Miami for one ring.
The Thunder also might have competed with LeBron’s Cavaliers and even the San Antonio Spurs. Russell Westbrook is one of the best point guards in the league and James Harden can run the show as a point guard as well, but the key is Kevin Durant. Durant is an incredible scorer and one of the most impactful players in history, so his talent alone was enough to carry a team every year. Durant had great success with Westbrook, but Harden would have given them the extra piece they needed. Durant lacked shooters in OKC, so Harden would have solved that problem immediately.
The Thunder had more talent than the Kevin Durant-less Golden State Warriors, were younger than the San Antonio Spurs, and had the edge with James Harden against LeBron’s Cavaliers. It is expected that this Big Three would have grown together and won at least 3 chips over a span of 8 years because three MVP caliber talents and 3 scoring champions in one squad would prove to be too much.