Before the season started, almost every prediction had the OKC Thunder as a lock for the playoffs or even one of the better teams in the Western Conference. And with a good reason. With Paul George coming back and creating a dynamic duo with Russell Westbrook they have one of the best lineups in the league. But it hasn’t started very well. Should the Thunder be worried?
No. It is way to early to hit the panic button. Paul George himself said there are 78 games left. But if they want to turn it around they have to change a lot of things.
They started the season putting up a good fight on the road versus the Warriors without Westbrook. Nobody held it against them, put the following three games were all winnable games.
In LA versus the Clippers, they just didn’t have enough firepower as Westbrook had to sit out that game also, but it was a bad performance especially in the 4th quarter which they lost 37-15.
But then in a perfect scenario versus the Kings home, Westbrook returns as everybody got that first win of the season already in the books. But unfortunately for the Thunder, they allowed the Kings to get hot and drop 131 points in their building and beat them for their third straight loss. A game that got many fans saying: “What is wrong with the Thunder ?”
And to top it of choking away a game against a strong Boston side, with a 16 point lead at halftime and again choking in the 4th quarter with scoring 1 point in the last 4:15 of the game. A lot of the blame went to Westbrook’s direction as he went 0/7 with 2 turnovers in that period. So what do they have to do?
The biggest problem is the ball movement. Billy Donovan has to set up some plays that will allow his 2 stars to get easier looks and not just rely on iso plays. That will also help the supporting cast to get involved and when everybody gets cooking Westbrook and George won’t have to take every shot contested. That especially implies on Adams, Grant, Patterson and those guys. One of the rare guys that stepped up from the bench is Dennis Schröder who is become the third wheel in the offense is one of the rare guys that can create his own shot.
The second problem is the defense. The effort is not there, as you just can’t win games like that. The absence of Andre Roberson is felt dramatically as the Thunder hope that he recovers as soon as possible, so he can anchor their defense. That way the offense will also get going a lot easier because sometimes defense is the best offense.
To cap it off, the Thunder don’t need to worry as there is a lot of games left, as you have to take into consideration that their main star Russel Westbrook has just recovered from a knee surgery and is getting back into his rhythm. If everybody gets healthy and they start to move more on the offensive end and show some grit on defense they can still be on of the scariest teams in the West and a threat to any team.