Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
The Record Projection: 52-30 of fromal The Bet: Avoid lean over
As Kyle Wagner broke down to FiveThirtyEight, the addition of Paul George immediately vaulted 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 the Thunder seat that the rest of the roster is worth -2 wins. That seat was bad this past season, but young players like Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an additional season with the group, and this season’s first-round draft select Terrance Ferguson has potential as a spot-up shooter on the wing, and also the team desperately wanted last season. Still, with Taj Gibson likely leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be thin. However, while their projection does not put the team almost at the level of this Golden State Warriors, as well as the newly minted Chris Paul Houston Rockets, acquiring George should have an outsize effect 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’ve been expected to win 51 games. And that was written before OKC inked Patrick Patterson–a power forwards who fits perfectly with another anticipated starting pieces–to a deal of a bargain.
Improving much beyond the 51-win benchmark is a difficult task as the Thunder try to weave in new players effortlessly. But after watching Russell Westbrook serve as a one-man show during his MVP-winning campaign, they now get to put so much more talent .
Expect big things.
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