Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 52-30 The Bet: Avoid lean over
As Kyle Wagner broke down for FiveThirtyEight, the addition 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 believes so little of this Thunder seat that the rest of the roster is worth -2 wins. That bench was awful last year, but young players like 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 team desperately needed last season. However, with Taj Gibson probably leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be sparse. However, while their projection does not put the team nearly at the amount 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 version here is that even without factoring in the upside which stems from possible 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 matches perfectly with another anticipated starting pieces–to a bargain of a deal.
Improving much past the 51-win benchmark is a challenging task as the Thunder try to weave in new players seamlessly. But after viewing Russell Westbrook serve as a one-man show during his MVP-winning effort, they now get to place so much more talent around him.
Expect huge things.
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