In a recent piece from Jonathan Tjarks of the Ringer, OKC is listed as one of the five small-ball lineups that has the supposed potential to challenge Golden State in the West. But, amid all of the tension and second-half confusion the Thunder have been going through, will there ever be a point in which OKC could be in contention among one of the most talented western conferences in NBA history?
As mentioned in the article, just like any other extensive roster additions, OKC will undoubtedly have to get over the hump of creating an efficient small-ball system after the integration of so much talent from the past summer. Once the roster is on the same page, and chemistry begins flowing, THEN a true nightmare may be born.
If we take a second to dismiss the Thunder’s fourth-quarter woes, assuming their second-half troubles could be resolved under Donovan’s intricate on-court system, then a whole lot of positives come out of OKC’s playoff-ready roster.
George and Roberson have already proven to be (as expected) one of the best perimeter defending duos in the league, alongside Melo and Westbrook who aren’t known for defensive talents by any means, but can be a rugged duo for off ball scoring.
“Roberson is a walking trade-off. He’s their best defender, but he can’t shoot to save his life and no one guards him when he’s anywhere outside of the paint. Donovan made Golden State account for him in the 2016 Western Conference finals by using him as a roll man and a screener, which means putting four 3-point shooters around him.”
George’s three point abilities should also be of bold character if you’re in the business of convincing anyone that OKC has the power to take down GS. He’s hitting 40.5% of his three points attempts, and sits in 4th place for attempts per game (7.8). Of the top 5 players with deep shots attempted, he owns the best completion percentage. It’s been quite clear how effective the Warriors are from downtown, so any team in question of taking them down better be able to play the range-game as well.
Either way, with the recent 4th quarter woes for the new trio of Oklahoma, the Thunder have some serious homework to do before any word of contention is to be spoken. Russell Westbrook and Carmelo need to find a balance of unselfishness, yet effective scoring during clutch-time minutes.
As Tjarks mentions, every member of the trio has an “incentive to be on their best behavior and make this work,” and prove the bully-like Warriors of the west aren’t invincible, as we saw last week.