In our third and final part of the Thunder evaluations, we will dissect the good and the bad from the team’s starting perimeter players, Andre Roberson, Victor Oladipo, and Russell Westbrook.
Season stats: 6.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.2 steals and 1.0 block in 30.1 minutes per game.
At the beginning of the season the Thunder faithful assumed Roberson’s tenure with the organizatin would be over proceeding the 2016-2017 season. However, due to an impressive ending to the regular season that parlayed into the post-season, his value rose and he obviously benefits the team, thus putting a ton of pressure on Sam Presti to make a crucial decision this off-season.
Roberson’s was pretty impressive. With him being the most unnapreciated player on the team, many expected this to be his final go-around but his gradual improvement throughout the year changed the tide a bit.
Although the Thunder lost in the opening round of the playoffs to the Houston Rockets, Roberson’s defense on James Harden was eye-popping. People noticed it. Yes, Harden averaged 33.2 points in the series, but only shot 41.8 percent and 24 percent from three. That’s something he’s been doing throughout the last couple of years against Harden, but this was on a larger stage. More people took notice.
He did have a very poor free throw shooting series, where he shot 3-for-21 (14 percent) from the line. That unfortunately overshadowed everything else he did during the series in many people’s eyes but if you know basketball and appreciate the dying attribute of defense, you’ll realize just how great Roberson was for the Thunder this year.
- When Roberson was on the floor, OKC had the fourth best defensive rating in the NBA (106.3).
- He was ranked the fifth best perimeter defender based on real plus-minus (RPM).
- Registered 10-plus rebounds six times and five or more rebounds 38 times.
- Scored in double-figures 16 times.
Season stats: 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists in 33.2 minutes per game.
Oladipo was brought over to the Thunder during the off-season, expected to be Westbrook’s counterpart. By looking at his stats you’d easily say he was, but watching each and every one of his games, that wasn’t really the case.
Victor was very productive this year, but his inconsistency put Westbrook in some dicey situations, especially late in the game where Westbrook had to take the game over. Because Oladipo all but disappeared on the offensive end of the floor.
The good thing about this is the thought that this may be Oladipo getting used to a new offense, on a new team, new teammates and a new conference that’s more offensive oriented.
- Connected on a three-point field goal in 57 of 67 games this season.
- 16 straight games with a three-pont field goal. Scored in double figures 56 times.
- Scored 20 or more points 18 times.
- Recorded three double-doubles.
Season stats: 31.6 points (1st in NBA), 10.7 rebounds (10th in NBA), 10.4 assists (3rd in NBA) in 34.6 minutes per game.
Russell’s season was pretty self-explanatory based on the milestones he surpassed and the fourth quarters he completely dominated. After the big offseason, Westbrook adapted very quickly to being the franchise player, undisputed leader and voice of reason for this young Thunder team.
His biggest improvement was his maturity, leadership and relentlessness. In the past, Westbrook had a shorter temper than today’s NBA would prefer but this year, he found a better way to express himself; in his play. He simply learned how to turn his suppposed “weakness” as a strong suit.
- Became the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double for the season.
- Led the league in scoring for the second time in his career.
- Earned his 42nd triple-double of the season at Denver (4/9), giving him the most single-season triple-doubles in NBA history.
- That was his 79th career triple-double, moving him to fourth all-time.
- First player in NBA history to record seven-straight triple-doubles twice in one season.
- Set an NBA record for most points in a triple-double with 57.