Quick dribbles on the Oklahoma City Thunder as we prepare for the regular season.
- Recently, new Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and Paul George worked out together for the first time in California, according to Royce Young of ESPN. In addition, the All-Star pair went through conditioning and skill drills and were joined by teammates Kyle Singler, Doug McDermott, Jerami Grant and Semaj Christon.
Russell Westbrook and Paul George worked out together today for the first time: https://t.co/TYNBknMXmC— Royce Young (@royceyoung) August 14, 2017
2. Monday evening, the NBA released its 2017-18 regular season schedule. The Oklahoma City Thunder begins a long season with an October 19 home debut vs. the New York Knicks.
While Oklahoma City’s most anticipated matchup last year came against the Golden State Warriors, unfortunately, in that series Golden State ran past the Thunder via season sweep. However, with the addition of George, NBA fans should highlight Nov 22 as the Thunder face the Warriors in Oklahoma City.
Also of note: George returns to Indy December 13th in an ESPN televised meeting opposite his long-time former franchise.
3. Despite losing key pieces from the starting lineup (Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis; both traded to Indiana) and a great bench presence (Taj Gibson; signed by Minnesota) following PG’s arrival, the Oklahoma City Thunder was ranked third in David Aldridge’s offseason rankings.
4. The most notable new player on the roster is PG13. However, the Thunder also signed Patrick Patterson, a solid stretch four who is likely to assume starting power forward duties. However, following knee surgery, Patterson is expected to be out for 4–6 weeks, but is expected to be ready by the start of training camp.
5. Patterson is a valuable piece to this team whether he’s in the starting lineup or coming off the bench. His ability to stretch the floor due to his above-average 36.8% three-point shooting is what caught Sam Presti’s eye in the offseason.
Not only is he a solid three-point shooter, but Patterson’s basketball IQ is standout; he can make the smart pass or provide offense from the corners. Also noteworthy: his ability to guard the four or five position makes him lethal on the defensive end.
Patrick Patterson undergoes successful knee procedure. https://t.co/izCWPdaPCC— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) August 10, 2017
Spark the bench?
6. Everybody knows the Thunder needed more shooting, but adding a top notch sixth-man who can come in the game and give Westbrook or George a breather would be prime. Add in a player like Lou Williams or Eric Gordon and the Thunder will look like a top three team in the NBA.
7. To stop those vanishing leads: sign a prolific sixth man during mid-season. If the Thunder cannot sign an offensively potent reserve Billy Donovan should find ways to stagger Westbrook and George’s minutes.
Westbrook proved he can hold his own solo after averaging a triple-double in 36 minutes per game. Though, adding George certainly helps Westbrook. Again, when one star is off the floor, the other should be on.
8. Both Westbrook and George led their teams to the playoffs last season without any All-Stars running mates. However, the Thunder and Pacers each fell short in the first round against higher-seeded competition.
9. With the addition of George and Patterson to the projected starting lineup, the Thunder will be able to use Enes Kanter and McDermott as offensive-minded reserves. Though this was the case last year, both were potentially headed for starting roles with the offseason losses of Oladipo and Sabonis.
10. Along with Kanter and McDermott, the Thunder will turn to Grant and Abrines, two impact bench players who have shown glimpses of providing more than adequate reserve minutes.
11. Though Kanter is the proclaimed sixth man, McDermott will need to step up his role. For him to do that, he will need to channel his shooting days from college, rekindling the “sharp-shooter” status from long range.
The Thunder finished last season ranked dead last in three-point percentage, so whatever success they get from McDermott will be well received.
McDermott seemed out of place last season following his midseason trade, but another year in Oklahoma should allow him to become more accustomed to Donovan’s system.
Injuries always set Dougie back. However, if he can get through the season injury free; he should flourish in his role with this Thunder unit.
12. The Oklahoma City Thunder have yet to strike a new deal with last season’s MVP. Russell Westbrook was offered a “super-max” contract last month, but has yet to sign. After accepting his MVP trophy, Westbrook has not uttered a word about his future.
13. Westbrook, who is set to be a free-agent at the end of the 2017–2018 season, has fans on the edge of their seats. Many wonder if Westbrook is taking his time to sign before the season, or if he will wait until next off-season to decide. Thunder fans hope it’s the former, as a repeat of Kevin Durant could spell disaster for the organization.
14. As one of the premier scorers in the league, George’s utility will perfectly compliment Westbrook.
Though many expect Westbrook’s usage rate and statistics to take a small dip, having another shooting threat should help his assist line, as well as take some of the defensive pressure off of him. Though Westbrook may not average a triple-double this season, he shouldn’t be too far off if he doesn’t.
15. George, though known as a terrific scorer, is a very underrated defender. His size, basketball IQ and work ethic make him a solid all-around player.
His ability to guard multiple positions will allow Andre Roberson to focus on his natural position of shooting guard.
With Roberson, George and Steven Adams together on the court together, opposing teams should find it hard to generate offense. With his new team, George could actually upgrade his defense like we witnessed with Durant in Oakland last year.
**Hey viewers, my name is Jonathan Bates and I’m the newest writer for Welcome To Loud City. I’m currently a sophomore at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne studying Communications. I’m looking forward to enlightening you guys more about the Oklahoma City Thunder. Enjoy!**