The beginning of new season gave us some astonishing performances by Russell Westbrook and the start of a new phase of Thunder franchise. Every beginning is hard, but for Thunder, this is going well for now. It isn't easy, but it's good. 3 games - 3 wins.
"Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." - Vince Lombardi
This is the quote that drives Russell Westbrook to blast and rock on every game. He averages 38.7 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 11.7 APG, shooting 44.4% from the downtown and overall 45.3% for 38.3 MPG. Can he average a triple double throughout the whole season? Oscar Robertson succeeded, can RW do it? Personally, I don't think so, but miracles can happen.
Russell Westbrook is the true leader of this franchise and will give 110% of himself every night, don't doubt in that. Only injury or suspension can stop him and I'm not very sure about the first one. Imagine 2017 NBA Playoffs 1st round matchup Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder. Russ will play with broken leg surely.
You saw the headlines over the offseason. Russ thinks Steven Adams is already an All-star caliber player. Adams is one of the main reasons why Russ signed that contract extension; he’s all-in on the Adams bandwagon. And so should we.
And Westbrook - Adams is at the moment one of the best p'n'r duos in NBA. Still, they can't dethrone Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, but they are on a good way.
A proper, well-working basketball relationship requires true admiration between the pair. That facet is why this combination is so intriguing. Russ wants to see Adams succeed; that’s a big confidence boost for a 23-year old.
Steven Adams has a rare blend of raw strength and mobility that you don’t normally find in seven-footers. He can set his screen past the three-point line because of his speed when rolling to the rim. This gives Westbrook optimal spacing to work in the lane; if he gets stuck he can rely on a rolling Adams being right behind him.
Russ at full-throttle creates the most force of any point guard according to my own scientific calculations. You can say the same about Adams, just switch point guard for a center. There is not a team in the NBA that has the athleticism to cover both of these guys at the same time.
Adams’ usage rate is going to rise significantly this season because of this one play. Every time this duo is on the court a pick & roll should be run. Adams ball skills are only improving with the more experience he gets. Expect Adams to have A LOT of experience running the pick & roll by the time the season is over.
Victor Oladipo just signed a contract extension with the Thunder. They didn’t need to see much before locking Oladipo up to be a key part of their core. He got $84M for 4 years and I think that he will return that to them. At the moment this is the best deal for them.
Yeah, we all remember the beginning of the 2012-2013 NBA Season and Harden's departure from Oklahoma. Sam Presti didn't want to give Harden $80M and now he is giving $84M to Oladipo. The value of $ broke the roof, but still, Harden and Oladipo aren't comparable, due to all respect to Victor, he isn't on the level where Harden is and I think that this is self-explanatory.
With these contracts, Presti wants to get sure that he and rest of Oklahoma won't experience the same situation as with James and Kevin. Lock those guys and if they leave you will receive some good assets in the return. Don't make them leave for anything. Sam Presti learned the lesson.
Enes Kanter is here to create some points when the second unit comes on the court. Everything he scores and catches he will return on the defensive side. One of the worst big men defender in NBA. He bites on every fake, doesn't have a foot speed or raw athleticism to recover from his constant failings. Also, his defensive IQ is questionable.
Kanter's Defensive Real Plus-Minus of -1.96 ranks him 73rd out of 75 centers that have played in the NBA in the last season, beating out only Andrea Bargnani (-2.01) and Jahlil Okafor (-2.03). The Thunder had a stellar Defensive Rating of 97.0 last season when Kanter is off the floor, compared to a whopping 105.8 when he's on it. He allowed opponents to shoot 52.5% against him at the rim on 5.1 attempts per game, which is one of the worst marks in the league.
Next to Kanter, Adams, Oladipo and Westbrook there are a bunch of guys who can contribute, but they aren't the guys that you can rely on, that can contribute every night and be constant. They can help, but when will they help it's a mystery.
What does Thunder need to improve and to become NBA Championship contender again? Blake Griffin, the boy from Oklahoma will be FA next summer and with Russell and the rest of the roster they can attack the title again. But, that's maybe not the solution.
The addition of Blake Griffin can be great, but his mentality and character don't seem to be complement with Oklahoma City Thunder chemistry. Russell is the leader and that shouldn't be changed in the upcoming seasons. The man who gives his everything every night and who can turn up the atmosphere in the Chesapeake Arena in a second is a true leader.
I don't think that Griffin can subjugate to that. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't see that to happen. Blake is an explosive guy, a guy who punches a team employee, a guy who can't be settled down easily.
Russell needs guys who can play with him and let him take 50 shots on the single game when it needs to. Yes, I am referring to game against Phoenix on Oct 28, 2016, when he took 44 shots and scored 51 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and made 10 assists. He got so many critics for being a ball hog, for playing only for the individual stats etc.
He clogged mouth of the haters two days after and in the win against the Lakers he scored 33 points, shooting 5/6 from the downtown.
He will repeat the nights where he takes 40-50 shots, but that isn't important because winning is the only thing. I am being repetitive, but people don't realize that he must take these shots. Who will shoot instead? Morrow? Robinson? Singler? Sorry, but OKC won't surrender and implement Sam Hinkie's tanking strategy. They will fight and you gotta respect that.
The season is long and it isn't the sprint, it's a marathon and everything can change overnight. As Golden State is having problems right now, they are still the first favorites for the NBA Championship. One trade or FA can change A LOT and I hope that OKC will find the solution to reach NBA Playoffs and to go further in the march to the title.
I am Houston fan, but Russell and the rest of OKC roster you have my support!