Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
The Record Projection: 52-30 of fromal The Bet: Avoid but lean over
As Kyle Wagner broke down to FiveThirtyEight, the inclusion of Paul George immediately reversed 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 the Thunder seat that the rest of the roster is worth -2 wins. That seat was bad last year, but young players like Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an extra season with the group, and this season’s first-round draft pick Terrance Ferguson has potential as a spot-up shot on the wing, which the team desperately needed last season. Still, with Taj Gibson likely leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be thin. But while their projection doesn’t put the team almost at the level of the Golden State Warriors, as well as the newly minted Chris Paul Houston Rockets, acquiring George should have an outsize influence on the Thunder.”
The TL;DR variant here is that even without factoring in the upside which stems from potential internal advancement, the Thunder already should have been expected to acquire 51 games. And that was written before OKC inked Patrick Patterson–a power forward who fits perfectly with another anticipated starting pieces–into a bargain of a deal.
Improving much past the 51-win benchmark is a difficult job as the Thunder try to weave in new players effortlessly. But after watching Russell Westbrook function as a one-man show throughout his MVP-winning campaign, they now get to put much more talent around him.
Expect big things.
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