What's Next for the Thunder?

What's Next for the Thunder?

The Oklahoma City Thunder's wild 2011 NBA Playoffs run is now over after Wednesday's 100-96 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5. It was the first extended playoff run for a team many expect to dominate the decade. Because of that, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, coach Scott Brooks and the rest of the Thunder players and coaches faced adversity unlike anything they had faced before. Their six-game first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010 was the honeymoon; this year's run was the first stage of marriage, where both parties realizes it is harder than it looks.

In the end, the Thunder were just too young to make it as far as we all wanted. Considering their age and inexperience, making it as far as the Western Conference Finals was an incredible accomplishment. But it was also a journey where holes were revealed, reputations were altered and adjustments became necessary. The 17 playoff games they played were more instructive to them than the 164 regular-season games they have played as an elite team over the past two years. The trick now is for the Thunder to put those lessons into action and grow from this experience, and that's the most difficult step of all.

What lessons has Oklahoma City learned. Let's explore some of them here. In no particular order.

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