Against the Raptors, it has been a full display of the Thunder’s offensive potential. By the end of the third quarter, in fact, Oklahoma City had already scored 102 points. If we look back just a few games, then we will see that the Thunder had problems to score 100 or more points during the course of an entire game.
The answer is pretty easy: everyone finally accepted his role on offense, and the team benefits from it.
Westbrook understood that he is the leader, the best player on the team, and everyone has to follow him. The former MVP looks also more healthy, and that little knee intervention before training camp doesn’t seem to bother him anymore. His averages in the past six games are outstanding: 30 points per game while shooting 56.3% from the floor and 40% from behind the arc (he is taking only 1.7 threes per game), and 84.2 from the FT line. Westbrook adds 10.3 assists, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and “only” 3.5 turnovers.
Paul George has been more aggressive on offense, and, with a better ball movement, there are more spaces on the court, which allowed him to become lethal from behind the three points line (last night he finished with seven triples on ten attempts, 70%).
Carmelo Anthony finally bought into the system. He is the third, maybe sometimes the fourth option on offense, fewer balls in his hands, he became more of a catch and shooter now than a first option one-on-one threat.
With the big three finding their role, things are getting better also for the other two starters:
Steven Adams is turning himself in one of the best two-way centers in the league. He is big, he is skilled, and he doesn’t give up any rebound easily. He is leading the league in offensive rebounds, 5.1 per game. That’s impressive.
While the big Kiwi is turning himself into one of the most improved players in the league, Andre Roberson is not anymore a dead weight standing in the corner three, but a Tasmania Devil who keeps moving and has his defender always engaged. This allows him to shoot more near to the basket and to be in a position to steal offensive rebounds.
Offensively the bench has still some issues: there isn’t a true scorer, but players like Felton, Grant, Patterson, and Huestis proved many times that Donovan can trust them in many situations. Their offense is not spectacular if we remove the ferocious dunks which Grant and Huesties can provide night in and night out, but their defense is mostly solid. This allows Billy Donovan to have them on the court.
Unfortunately, Alex Abrines is having huge issues this year. There were high expectations for him coming into this season, but until now, he is far from meeting any of them. His defense has been brutal, not only yesterday but since the beginning of the season. He has trouble to stay in front of any player, and while he might be an offensive threat, he hasn’t been constant enough to justify an increase in playing time.
The season is still long, but if the Thunder will keep building on this offensive system, their slow start will be only a far memory.
- FG% 52.9, 3P% 36.0, FT% 69.7, ASSISTS 25, REBOUNDS 52, STEALS 9, TURNOVERS 12
- FG% 42.4, 3P% 28.9, FT% 92.3, ASSISTS 24, REBOUNDS 34, STEALS 9, TURNOVERS 11
The Thunder will play against at home, on Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, tip off 7 p.m CT
Feature photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images