With the Oklahoma City Thunder playing the way they are playing right now, in the midst of a six game winning streak it’s easy to be content. Well this is for those Thunder fans that don’t ever seem to be content, even with the longest winning streak of the year. There’s always room for improvement, right?
There are things that OKC needs to improve in order to beat the best in the west… The San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors who are playing at a record breaking rate. The Thunder have improved their lackluster defense, they’ve improved their bench productivity, and first year head coach Billy Donovan seems to have gotten used to the NBA game and in fact knows what he’s doing. However, Billy has to have a deeper bench in order to compete against those teams. Both San Antonio and Golden State have a deep bench, with multiple players who can put up big numbers on any given night.
Other than Enes Kanter, Cameron Payne, and sometimes Dion Waiters, this bench is somewhat lacking. Players like Anthony Morrow, and Mitch McGary see the court sparingly but are typically somewhat effective when they are in the game. There isn’t a good reason why those two players don’t see the floor more often. With Morrow, the problem has been defense, but bringing him in for 6-10 minutes to knock down a few shots to bring the team back into a game, or to put away a game would be ideal. Yeah, it’s easy to just keep Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in the game to do that which they still should be, but these guys get a thrill out of playing time. If you have a player with the ability to score like Morrow can, then use him sometime, just because you can. Mitch really brings a certain type of energy to the court, that only one other player on the team does, and that’s Westbrook. Not saying he’s going to go out there and get 20 points and 10 rebounds per night, but when the team lacks energy, or needs someone to mix it up a little bit to throw an opposing team off, then you have Mitch.
D.J. Augustin and Steve Novak are the other two players that don’t see the court much at all. This is where Sam Presti could possibly make a trade. I’m no GM, nor do I know OKC’s financial plans but if there is a player out there that will gel with this team both in the locker room, and on the floor for the right price, get him. This conference is too stacked this year to have two or three players on the bench that don’t play one bit. Hopefully something will be done here. Even throwing Kyle Singler in for some sort of value may help push a quality trade through. Some even like Waiters as a possible trade piece, which I don’t think would be a good move due to his positive impact in the locker room.
The last thing is getting Cam Payne a little stronger on the court. This will of course take care of itself in time, but it’s something that has to be mentioned. At about 6’2, 185 pounds (which may be an exaggeration) he really struggles finishing in the paint, and he also has gotten leveled a few times on picks. Getting him in the weight room this off-season will help the team going into next year.
These are all speculations and possibilities. This Thunder squad looks very good right now, but there’s always something to look at in the way of improvement and these are about the only things that can be found.
Feature photo: Torrey Purvey/ InsideThunder.com
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Great analysis Addam Francisco.What question did you ask Cam Payne?
Thank you very much! I asked him what the biggest transition has been from college ball to the NBA.