Olympics Wrap-Up: Thunder Players Shine
When the Thunder reports for training camp in October, the squad will have three Olympic Gold Medal winners and a Silver Medal winner as well.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden all helped the United States win the Gold in London, staving off a tough Spain team in the Gold Medal game, which featured the Silver Medal-winning Serge Ibaka. The four Thunder standouts, along with trainer Joe Sharpe each made an impact during the eight Olympic games they played. The USA trio led the Americans to an 8-0 record, and Ibaka’s Spanish side went 5-3.
All four members of the Thunder quartet stood out in their own way during the course of the Olympics. Below is a breakdown of their performances:
Durant started every game for Team USA, and averaged a team-high 19.5 points in addition to 5.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 52.3 percent from the three-point line and 88.9 percent from the free throw line. During the eight games, Durant never scored below double figures, while notching a 30-point game in the crucial Gold Medal matchup, a 28-point game against Argentina and a 22-point game in the opener against France. Durant also notched a double-double in a win against Tunisia en route to becoming the USA’s leading scorer in a single Olympics with 156 points over the course of the eight games.
Westbrook was a key reserve for the United States, playing nine-or-more minutes in every single contest. Over the course of eight games, Westbrook averaged 8.5 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 52.9 shooting from two-point range. Westbrook scored in every game, including two double-digit outings. His best day came against Nigeria, when the guard used 7-for-8 shooting to rack up 21 points to go along with two assists and three steals. Throughout the course of the Olympics, Westbrook was often called upon by head coach Mike Krzyzewski to be a force on the defensive end, pressuring the opposing ball-handler into mistakes.
Harden was in the USA’s rotation, seeing action in all eight games in addition to filling the scoring column in every contest. The reigning NBA Sixth-Man of the Year played 14 minutes against France, 16 minutes against Tunisia and 20 minutes against Nigeria, and was utilized to ice the Gold Medal game at the free throw line. For the Olympics, Harden averaged 5.5 points, 0.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game on 78.6 percent shooting from two-point range, with his best days coming on a 10-point game against Tunisia and a seven-point, four assist game against Nigeria.
Ibaka was a part of the three-headed monster Spain employed in the post alongside NBA All-Stars Pau and Marc Gasol. The long, athletic forward averaged 8.0 points, 4.4 rebounds per game (including 2.0 offensive), 0.8 assists and 1.25 blocks per game in addition to shooting 57.8 percent from the floor. Ibaka, the NBA’s leading shot blocker in 2011-2012, swatted three shots in both a game against China and a game against Brazil where he also scored 14 points and snagged six rebounds. During the eight games, Ibaka had three double-figure efforts, including a 17-point game against China and a 12-point, nine-rebound output in the Gold Medal game.