Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
The Record Projection: 52-30 of fromal The Bet: Avoid but lean over
As Kyle Wagner broke down for FiveThirtyEight, the addition of Paul George immediately vaulted the Oklahoma City Thunder back to contention in the Western Conference:
“The top-5 of Westbrook, George, Enes Kanter, Steven Adams and Andre Roberson are worth 53 wins all on their own. But CARMELO believes so little of this Thunder bench that the remainder of the roster is worth -2 wins. That seat was bad this past season, but young players such as Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an additional season with the team, and this year’s first-round draft pick Terrance Ferguson has potential as a spot-up shooter on the wing, and also the team desperately wanted last season. However, with Taj Gibson probably leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be sparse. But while their projection does not place the team nearly at the amount of this Golden State Warriors, as well as the newly minted Chris Paul Houston Rockets, obtaining George should have an outsize effect on the Thunder.”
The TL;DR version here is that even without factoring in the upside which stems from potential internal advancement, the Thunder already should’ve been expected to win 51 games. And that was written before OKC inked Patrick Patterson–a power forwards who matches perfectly with another anticipated starting pieces–to a bargain of a bargain.
Improving much past the 51-win benchmark is a difficult task as the Thunder attempt to weave in fresh players seamlessly. But after viewing Russell Westbrook serve as a one-man show during his MVP-winning effort, they get to place so much more talent .
Expect huge things.
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