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2018-19 NBA Season Team Previews: Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA Team Preview - Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder were hyped up for last season. The Thunder went out in the 2017 offseason and picked up Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Many people believed that this “big 3” could make OKC a contending team. They were solid in the regular season but struggled in the playoffs.

Oklahoma City finished last season with a 48-34 record, which earned them the fourth spot in the Western Conference. The Thunder met up with the Utah Jazz in the first round and had a tough six-game series loss. Oklahoma City will look to build off their offseason moves and chemistry this season.

The Thunder are stuck in the Western Conference. Oklahoma City was able to put up a solid record last season but will need to put up better numbers this season if they want to make a playoff run. Their playoff performances over the last couple seasons have been uneventful and they need to turn that around.

Guards

The starting Point Guard for Oklahoma City is Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is one of the best Point Guards in the entire NBA. He has been a beast stat wise, but the Thunder need him to spend less time with the ball in his hands. Westbrook averaged 25.4 points, 10.3 assists and 10.1 rebounds per game. He also took the most shots per game at around 21.1 field goals attempted.

Andre Roberson:
Should be back to start the season for Oklahoma City. He is an extremely solid defensive Guard. Roberson missed over half of last season. He averaged 5.0 and 4.7 rebounds while healthy last season. He is a key piece defensively for the Thunder at the wing spot. His return should strengthen the lineup.

Oklahoma City picked up Dennis Schroder in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks this offseason. Not only were the Thunder able to pick up Schroder, but they also got rid of Carmelo Anthony, who was not working out.

Schroder will be the Thunder’s sixth man. He averaged 19.4 points and 6.2 assists per game last season with the Hawks. I believe Schroder will excel in a sixth man role. He is going to add a very dynamic pace off the bench.

Alex Abrines will come off the bench at the Shooting Guard spot. He averaged 4.7 points per game last season. The Thunder also picked up Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot in the offseason. He averaged 5.8 points per game with the 76ers.

The Thunder also have Raymond Felton. Felton averaged 6.9 points and 2.5 assists in 82 appearances last season. He is not a bad backup, but his role will decrease even more in the lineup with the addition of Schroder.

OKC also picked up Hamidou Diallo and Devon Hall in this season’s draft. Both players were taken in the second round. I do not believe that both players will make the roster as neither player is likely to make a huge impact. Some development in the minor leagues could benefit them.

Overall this Guard core is very strong. Westbrook and Roberson should be great starters. The addition of Schroder as sixth man should be huge in the lineup. I believe he could compete for Sixth Man of the Year. If so, this Thunder Guard core should be near the top of the league.

Forwards

Paul George is the starting Small Forward for Oklahoma City. George was a breath of fresh air for Oklahoma City Thunder fans last season. George’s presence really helped bring this team back to elite potential. He averaged 21.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. George’s defensive ability was another key to their roster last season.

I believe Jerami Grant will likely start at Power Forward for the Thunder this season. Last season the starting Power Forward was Carmelo Anthony, but they have parted ways. Grant averaged 8.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season. He should be a solid starter at Power Forward.

Anthony averaged 16.2 points per game last season. He was not terrible, but his constant taking of poor shots and lack of consistent production led to the Thunder trading him to Atlanta. Anthony is a solid offensive player but lacks a strong defensive game. Grant is a solid defender.

Oklahoma City has Patrick Patterson coming off the bench at the Power Forward spot. He averaged 3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game last season. I expect Terrance Ferguson to come off the bench at Small Forward. Ferguson averaged 3.1 points per game last season. Both players are decent bench players, but not huge pieces of the Thunder’s roster.

The Thunder also have Abdel Nader and Kevin Hervey on the bench. Both players are solid young prospects, but I do not expect them to contribute much this season. They will probably see more time if the Thunder start to have some injuries.

The starters for Oklahoma City’s Forward core are strong, but after that the depth is lacking a bit. It is not terrible, but it is nothing special. I do not believe the lack of depth will weaken their core at all though. The Thunder still boast a strong roster.

Centers

Steven Adams is the starting Center for OKC. Adams averaged 13.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season. He is one of the better Centers in the NBA. He plays nicely with Westbrook on the pick and roll game. He is another player that really helps fill out this roster.

Please Note:
The Thunder picked up Nerlens Noel in the offseason. Noel is a decent defensive Center, but he has never reached his potential. Noel averaged 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 30 games with the Dallas Mavericks last season.

Adams is a solidified starting Center in the NBA, while Noel is a giant question mark in my opinion. Noel could either see an increase in production with a backup role, or he could struggle with the extra time. If he struggles, I believe the Thunder could look to replace him during the season.

Overview

The Thunder’s roster has very few holes in it. The key is staying healthy. If Andre Roberson can return to his elite defensive level this season, I believe the Thunder will not have an issue. The real problems though, could begin to form in the playoffs. If Oklahoma City has another first round exit, it could really call the roster into question over the offseason.
BetOnline has the Oklahoma City Thunder listed at a win total of over/under 48 ½. I believe the Thunder will have little issues breaking that number this season. Oklahoma City was one game away last season, missing one of their best defenders. The best bet for the Thunder is over the win total.

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