Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
The Record Projection: 52-30 of fromal The Bet: Prevent but 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 on their own. But CARMELO thinks so little of the Thunder seat that the rest of the roster is worth -2 wins. That bench was bad last season, but young players such as Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an additional season with the group, and this season’s first-round draft pick Terrance Ferguson has potential as a spot-up shot on the wing, and also the team desperately wanted last year. However, with Taj Gibson probably leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be sparse. However, while their projection does not place the team almost at the level of the 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 this is that even without factoring in the upside that 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 forwards who matches perfectly with another expected starting pieces–into a bargain of a deal.
Improving much beyond the 51-win benchmark is a difficult task as the Thunder try to weave in new players effortlessly. But after viewing Russell Westbrook serve as a one-man show during his MVP-winning effort, they get to put much more talent .
Expect huge things.
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