Oklahoma City Thunder

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A lot of people were surprised when Paul George promptly agreed to re-sign with the Thunder, paving the way for year two of the Russ-PG 13 era in Oklahoma City. PG returned to finish what he and Russ consider as unfinished business – the NBA title.

Last season, George earned All-NBA 3rd Team honors when he averaged 21.9 pts. and 5.7 rebounds to go with 3.3 assists each night. Westbrook, on the other hand, averaged in triple-double (25.4 pts., 10.3 assists, and 10.1 rebounds a game) for the second straight year.

After a year of playing together, the two Thunder superstars should have more chemistry by now. This should result to more wins for the team and a longer playoff run.

 

Team Strengths

Obviously, Russell Westbrook remains the single biggest strength of the Thunder. The do-everything point guard can carry an entire team on his back on the offensive end. He combines a unique type of athleticism with such competitive fire. Usually, where Russ goes, so does OKC. If the Thunder perform well this season, you can expect Westbrook to figure prominently in the MVP race once again.

With Paul George back in a Thunder uniform this year, the Thunder have retained a great second option player. After all, PG is one of the NBA’s best 2-way players. With both PG and Andre Roberson together, Oklahoma City will provide one heck of a perimeter defense.

The Thunder also have one of the premier enforcers in the league in Steven Adams. He helps win games by doing all the dirty work and taking high-percentage shots.

The bench has become deeper with the acquisition of Dennis Schroeder as well as Nerlens Noel. Gone are the days when the Thunder become predictably sloppy each time Russ sits on the bench for a breather. Schroeder can provide starting-point guard-quality quarterbacking when he comes in to spell Westbrook.

Overall, the Thunder are an athletic, physical bunch of guys that can make a lot of points on the break, while holding their own in rebounding. They have, in fact, led the NBA in offensive rebounding rate the last 3 seasons. The Thunder also have some of the best fans in the league, allowing them to enjoy a great home-court advantage.

 

Weaknesses

While the Thunder are no longer considered as a poor 3-point shooting squad, their 35.4% shooting accuracy from 3-point range still leaves a lot to be desired. Westbrook’s rushed decisions and questionable shot selection can sometimes hurt the team.

While the Thunder’s bench depth has improved, it is still too early to tell if it really makes a lot of difference. Bear in mind that OKC belongs to a conference where even excellent teams unexpectedly bow out of the first round.

 

2018 – 2019 Season Prediction

The Thunder are expected to capture the Northwest Division crown this year, and finish as the 3rd seed in the West with a 50-win season. If Russ and PG can lead the Thunder over Steph’s Warriors and Lebron’s Lakers in the Western Conference playoffs, who knows, they might just go all the way this year.

 

 

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