It’s not ideal. It’s not as good as having Ibaka still on the court, threatening to reject Tony Parker’s underhanded layups or Kawhi Leonard’s drives. But necessity is the mother of invention.
We’ve already seen Durant remake himself this very season. When Russell Westbrook was lost for big chunks of the year, Durant became facilitator. Scored the touchdowns and quarterbacked. It was a remarkable string of performances and the prime reason he won the MVP and was able to deliver the speech of the century.
And we’ve seen playoff plagues cause other great players to transform themselves. Magic Johnson replaced the ailing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals and led the Lakers past the 76ers. LeBron James plays whatever position the Heat needs. Durant is a different player from LeBron, but Durant is no less versatile.
Worse cast scenario, the Spurs eliminate the Thunder, but Durant accumulates new skills and experience that just make him even more of a dominant player.
Brooks has other options. The emergence of Adams makes the loss of Ibaka almost bearable. Collison proved Thursday night he’s a valuable hand. Hasheem Thabeet still is 7-foot-3, still is on the Thunder roster and still is hard to shoot over. Perry Jones is an intriguing talent with Durant-like defensive skill.
But the answer to filling Ibaka’s gaping hole is the answer you get to a lot of questions concerning the Thunder.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.