The Oklahoma City Thunder were very close to eliminating the Golden State Warriors but they blew a 3-1 series lead in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. Russell Westbrook was very disappointed by how they choked their way out of the playoffs but he revealed in an interview what the Thunder needs to add next season.
The Thunder will have a very interesting offseason as Kevin Durant will enter free agency. Even though there is a big chance that Durant signs a two-year deal to stay in Oklahoma City, there is still the possibility of a team convincing him to sign with them.
But if everything stays that same for the Thunder, Russell Westbrook knows what they need to have in order to take the next step. In an interview with The Oklahoman, the five-time All-Star said that the Thunder do not need to improve any physical aspects of their game but the mental part.
“Mental toughness. I think we’ve gotten very, very well at that point, but I think to make the next step, we have to constantly do that throughout the whole season, not just late in the playoffs, because I thought we turned the page when it got to this time of year, but I think if we constantly keep that from start to finish, it makes it easier for us in certain situations,” Westbrook said.
It is very evident throughout the season that Oklahoma City had problems closing out games but they made strides in the playoffs by eliminating the San Antonio Spurs and pushing the Warriors to the limit. However, those same problems came back to haunt them in the final three games of their season.
Nonetheless, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder proved that they can go toe-to-toe with Golden State. They know that their length and athleticism posed problems for the Warriors, but they also need to have the “mental toughness” to finish what they started.
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Besides Durant, the Thunder will also need to decide the future of Dion Waiters, who played very well under head coach Billy Donovan. Other free agents for Oklahoma City are Randy Foye and Nazr Mohammed.
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