Here’s a paragraph for each of OKC’s consistent 13 players (not P.J. Dozier, Daniel Hamilton, Dakari Johnson and Kyle Singler).
Alex Abrines: B-
Although Abrines’ shooting percentage basically stayed the same from his rookie season, he wasn’t a liability offensively and his defensive play hit a growth spurt. Last season, Abrines was expected to be an offensive boost off the bench for the Thunder. He can be, randomly, but one thing that remained consistent this season was his defense. He’s not a liability anymore and in some cases, he may be a preferred defensive option off the bench.
Upside: The fact that he has scoring potential. Everyone knows he can shoot. It’s just a matter of time. Pairing a legit scoring repertoire with his defense, he could develop into a legitimate two-way player.
Steven Adams: A-
Steve-O just keeps improving and this year he improved pretty much across the board statistically. The NBA knows about his defensive game but before this season, he’s never been considered an offensive threat after averaging 7.5 points for his career. He upped his point production by a clip of 13.9 points per game. He would’ve gotten an A-plus if he simply played consistent basketball against the NBA’s best big men.
Upside: There’s a ton of upside but how about we keep it brief? His point production has improved in each of his five seasons, so it’d be smart to predict he’ll do the same next season too. Especially considering him clearly working on his 3-point game in practice. He could go from a 14-point-per-game guy to a near 20-and-10 caliber player.
Carmelo Anthony: C
This grade was solid and well-deserved for multiple reasons. By now, we all know about the drama during the exit interviews. Some of what he is justified and some is plain selfish.
Through the season, it was clear that Melo wasn’t the same Melo we’ve all grown to love. Not as mobile or swift, cant jump as high, and can’t shoot quite as well as years past. His acclimation to Oklahoma City and his suddenly new role was impressive. He never complained during the season, which is commendable but numbers don’t lie. Anthony’s stats were significantly lower, most obviously being his shooting percentage (40.1 percent) and points per game (16.2 points).
Upside: If any chases the money and stays in OKC, maybe more of his needs will be met. Maybe he’ll be a better version of himself, but that’ll only happen if the coaching staff put him in an optimal situation where he can succeed.
Corey Brewer: B+
Although he only played about a fourth of the season for OKC, he was impressive. It’s clear he did the best he could do with what he had to work with. Coming from riding the bench on the Los Angeles Lakers to being the starting shooting guard for the Thunder is a brutal transition. Things started very well for him offensively, shooting uncharacteristically well from long-distance. He leveled out and reverted back to his reputation of moderate scoring.
Defensively, he was acceptable. Obviously not the caliber of Andre Roberson but a satisfactory replacement.
Upside: Just like Melo, with a full offseason of preparation Brewer will be more acclimated to the Thunder’s overall gameplan as well as the culture around the franchise. He’ll be more comfortable.
Nick Collison: A-
Obviously not much can be said about Nick, due to him barely playing meaningful minutes this year. All we can judge him off of is the reason why he’s still a member of the team: his role as a mentor.
All-in-all, he did a good job. Naturally, he doesn’t seem to be very authoritative like a Kendrick Perkins but he is patient and wise, which can be just as effective. A good question is how did he lead this team in the locker room when things got tough?
Raymond Felton: B+
A definite upgrade at the backup point guard spot for the Thunder. He did a good job the majority of the time backing up Westbrook while keeping that same energy and intensity. He isn’t a great shooter all the time and he was inconsistent at times, but there were also multiple instances where he single-handedly kept OKC in the contest, with the second team on the floor.
Upside: The same as many; another chance to get more acclimated to Westbrook and the Thunder culture. It’s safe to believe he’ll pull out every ounce his uncle Ray styled game next season.
Terrance Ferguson: B-
Terrance entered this season with absolutely no expectations. Many thought he’d barely see the floor and would spend most of his rookie season in the G-League. Instead, he averaged 12.5 minutes per game and was considered a role player for the majority of the season.
After being thrown into a situation that he probably wasn’t 100 percent ready for, he didn’t produce like many wanted him to. The most obvious deficiency was his lack of size and underwhelming shooting. Ferguson shot 33 percent from 3-point range, which isn’t bad for a rookie but considering that was one of his positive attributes heading into the season, it’s a tad bit disappointing.
Upside: Ferguson overachieved this season based on his preseason expectations. His fearlessness in pretty much every area of the game and willingness to shoot the ball will pay off. He gained a ton of experience in his first season and his athleticism will carry him through his career.
Paul George: B-
If PG would’ve played like he did before the all-star break, he would’ve received an A but the decline after the break was glaring. His shooting percentage went down, his intensity lacked and he wasn’t aggressive.
However, his defense was elite all season long. George is a legitimate candidate for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year after being a spectacular perimeter defender all year long. The tandem of he and Andre Roberson was lethal.
Upside: If George stays with OKC, he’ll have more time to acclimate to Westbrook, possibly Anthony, and the rest of the team. He’s in his prime and if the Thunder runs actual plays for him to score the basket, we’ll see a more comfortable George next season.
Jerami Grant: A+
Grant was by far the most impressive player for the Thunder. Not only did he improve his point total to 8.9 points per game (which doesn’t reflect the impact that he had), he played more under control, more physical, smarter and found ways to attack the basket and get to the foul line. Grant even developed some semblance of a long distance game this year and it’ll only improve as he develops.
Although Grant came off the bench for OKC this year, it’s a known fact that he probably should have been in the starting lineup in place of an aging journeyman named Carmelo.
Upside: He continues to get better. If OKC can pay him this offseason, expect big things in year five. Hopefully, he can further develop an outside game while continuing to get stronger.
Josh Huestis: C
He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t bad. That’s the most accurate description of Huestis after this season. He got plenty of opportunities early on, but he was just too streaky of an offensive player to play in crucial situations. He’s kind of like Roberson but less of a defensive threat.
That doesn’t mean he was bad. He plays solid defense and as a matter of fact, his recovery defense was spectacular this season.
Upside: He’s not developing as fast as some would’ve hoped. That doesn’t mean he won’t. This season was his first getting meaningful NBA playing time. Watch the experience he gained this year prove to be beneficial next season.
Patrick Patterson: D-
This season for Patterson was actually a fail but he gets the slight benefit of the doubt due to his postseason surgery before joining the Thunder. Patterson was viewed as a guy who would initially start before Anthony came to town last second. He was expected to be a stretch-four offensively while providing solid defense in the paint and neither happened.
Patterson showed flashes of being a reliable 3-point shooter but then he’d go through big slumps more times than not.
Upside: Just like many others, next year he’ll be more acclimated to the Thunder system and obviously will spend his offseason surgery-free. He’ll have time to work 100 percent on his game.
Andre Roberson: A-
Roberson was on his way to being on the NBA All-Defensive First Team following a Second Team selection last season. He actually was considered for NBA Defensive Player of the Year prior to his gruesome season-ending surgery.
Not only did his already stout defense improve but he found a way to be effective offensively and not as much as a liability. He’s still a poor 3-point shooter, but he doesn’t shoot many 3s at all, averaging just one attempt per game, through 39 games. His field goal percentage jumped significantly from 46.4 percent last season to 53.7 percent this season.
Upside: Roberson’s upside is as clear as a sunny Los Angeles day. His defensive play continues to improve season-after-season and so is his offensive game. Roberson will never be a shooter but his ability to be relevant as a premier slasher will make him a vital part of next season’s success.
Russell Westbrook: B-
PRobably the hardest grade to give. Many want to pin this entire season on Westbrook and that’s simply not fair. No, he didn’t have a spectacular season and there are definitely things that he could’ve done better but his numbers are just as impressive as his MVP campaign.
His point production declined for obvious reasons but he still averaged 25.4 points per game while shooting 44.9 percent from the field, which is the second-best percentage of his career. His 3-point percentage declined to 29 percent but he adjusted, by decreasing his attempts from seven per game to four.
Westbrook did some things that hurt the team but without him, they wouldn’t have been a playoff team.
Upside: He plays well with a chip on his shoulder and despite averaging a triple-double for the second year in a row, he had a bit of a down year. Expect his offseason workouts to be brutal and for him to change more so as a person next season.
Overall, this clearly was a disappointing season for OKC. In our opinion, this was the most disappointing season they had. But looking at each individual player, you have to be optimistic. If there is a silver lining, it’s the fact that OKC’s young core (despite Westbrook, George, and Anthony) gained experience and in many cases improved.