Former NBA head coach George Karl has always had a touchy relationship with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Karl coached the Seattle Supersonics and has been outspoken about the Thunder not deserving to carry on the legacy of his former franchise. However, NewsOK.com reported on Dec. 18 that Karl is not biased enough to dismiss the Thunder, who says that they are one of the best teams in the NBA this year.
Karl coached the Thunder's divisional rival Denver Nuggets the past few seasons, but was relieved of his duties there and now serves as an analyst for ESPN. He was asked recently about the Thunder.
Karl said that the Thunder are running under the radar right now. He points out the fact that they opened the season without star point guard Russell Westbrook as one reason many dismissed them early on. He also pointed out the fact that the Thunder were in the NBA Finals two years ago and lost to the Miami Heat.
Karl believes the Thunder were good enough to make the NBA Finals that year but was not mature enough to win it yet. He said that this year's team has that maturity they were missing and they really want to get back to the NBA Finals.
Karl said another big difference this year is that Serge Ibaka is finally playing up to his potential and is having an All-Star year (14.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.33 blocks). Add in the development of Reggie Jackson and the Thunder might be the best they have ever been.
“This is a team that has a mission, has a confidence and has a direction and focus that is underrated or at least (overlooked) by the NBA people today,” Karl concluded.