Despite only narrowly beating Melbourne United by a point, Russell Westbrook has come out swinging. The MVP told reporters that the star-studded Thunder could make the NBL playoffs. Westbrook urged the league to consider the Thunder as an expansion team.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s hosted Melbourne United in a pre-season match yesterday. The game ended in a win by the smallest margin for the home side. The result was a positive sign for the NBA team, who made the most of their undermanned NBL opponent. Melbourne was missing star guard, Chris Goulding, along with valued contributor, Peter Hooley. After the match, reigning NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook boyishly told reporters that the NBL should look to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the leagues next expansion. In typical Westbrook style, he was confident of the Thunder’s potential success in Australia.
“I think we would make the playoffs,” Westbrook said of the sides potential NBL inclusion. “We are already a pretty stable club and have a history of over-performing despite being a small market.” Westbrook added the Thunder “could give some of these sides a run for their money.” After being prompted by local reporters, Westbrook said that escaping the NBA’s loaded Western Conference would be a bonus. “Sure, there are a lot of great sides in the west. The Warriors may look good at the moment, but how many NBL titles has Kevin Durant won?”
The Thunder would be the logical American expansion side, with strong ties to the region. New Zealand international, and Thunder centre, Steven Adams complimented Westbrook’s comments. “Growing up, I always wanted to play for the New Zealand Breakers. However, this will be just as good.” Meanwhile, Carmello Anthony and Paul George spoke highly of the Australian lifestyle, stating that like in Oklahoma City is “nice, I guess”.
Furthermore, along with Adams, the Thunder have further Australian connections. Thunder rookie, Terrance Ferguson, was drafted from the Adelaide 36ers in the offseason. However, the rookie guard was a little more standoffish about the Thunders’ potential NBL success. “I think we could probably make the playoffs if we played this season, but the Perth Wildcats would still be the favourites.” Ferguson added that Wildcats’ guard, Bryce Cotton would be a struggle for the Thunder: “(Cotton) would be a real issue, you know? I am just unsure who would guard him. Did you see him score 45 in the finals? Crazy”
Thunder assistant coach, Mark Bryant also heaped praise on the Thunders’ Australian opponents, saying that they “spoke good English for a European side”. Needless to say, reporters were too polite to correct him.