Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 52-30 The Bet: Avoid lean over
As Kyle Wagner broke down to FiveThirtyEight, the inclusion of Paul George immediately reversed the Oklahoma City Thunder back into 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. However, CARMELO thinks 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 group, and this year’s first-round draft select Terrance Ferguson has potential as a spot-up shooter on the wing, which the staff desperately needed last year. However, with Taj Gibson likely leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be sparse. However, while their projection does not put the team almost at the level of this Golden State Warriors, or even the recently 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 that stems from possible internal advancement, the Thunder already should have been expected to win 51 games. And that was written before OKC inked Patrick Patterson–a power forward who fits perfectly with the other anticipated starting pieces–into a bargain of a deal.
Improving much beyond the 51-win benchmark is a difficult job as the Thunder try to weave in fresh players seamlessly. But after watching Russell Westbrook function as a one-man show during his MVP-winning effort, they now get to put so much more talent around him.
Expect huge things.
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