Melo will more than likely land in Houston with his buddy, Chris Paul but that won’t become official until he is waived by Atlanta.
We all know how Sam Presti lessened the blow of the luxury tax, but what hasn’t been talked about as much is how great of a trade this is for OKC from a team standpoint.
Sam Presti has recreated Thabo Sefolosha and Reggie Jackson in the acquisition of Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schröder, 24, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, 23.
The comparison of Schröder and Jackson is one thing, but Cabarrot is literally a carbon copy of Sefolosha after his second season with the Chicago Bulls.
Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot’s first two seasons: 5.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 16.4 minutes per game. Thabo Sefolosha’s first two seasons: 5.2 points, 1.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game. In addition, both players are defensive-minded and great on-ball defenders.
Neither are great shooters, but Sefolosha has matured in a satisfactory three-and-D caliber player during his 12-year career. Yet another comparison: In Cabarrot’s first two seasons, he shoots 39.0 percent from the field, 32.3 percent from three and 83.4 percent from the free-throw line. Sefolosha averaged 42.7 percent from the field, 34.4 percent from three and 61.6 percent from the free-throw line. All similar stats for the exception of free throw percentage where Cabarrot has excelled.
The similarities aren’t just in statistics. They have a nearly identical build as well. When Thabo was 23 years old, he was six-foot-six and weighed in at 213 pounds. Cabarrot is six-foot-six and weighs 200 pounds. Lastly, Cabarrot is from Antibes, France and Sefolosha is from Vevey, Switzerland, which is a six-hour drive.
If Cabarrot develops as he should, he’ll be a slightly more athletic version of Sefolosha and an outstanding option off the bench defensively and will be expected to be the Andre Roberson of the bench unit.
I forgot to mention, Cabarrot’s favorite player is Paul George. What a world we live in.
As for Schröder, he’s essentially a better version of Reggie Jackson or that’s what will be expected of him in OKC, of course with less attitude.
Last season, Schröder averaged 19.4 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 31.0 minutes per game. Last season, Jackson averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game. Jackson’s best season was his first year in Detroit where he averaged 17.2 points, 9.2 assists, and 4.7 rebounds in 32.2 minutes per game.
Schröder is six-foot-one, 172 pounds while Jackson is built more like Westbrook, standing at six-foot-three, 208 pounds.
The biggest difference between these two players will be their attitude in their situation. Although they both have an edgy, slightly controversial type of personality that actually matches one Russell Westbrook, Jackson wasn’t fond of Westbrook (or playing behind him). Schröder, however, expressed that Westbrook is his favorite player. There’s a five-year age difference between the two, so maybe he’ll be more apt to learn from the former MVP and won’t see it as competition like Jackson, who is closer to Russ’ age.
I fully expect Schröder to embrace being the Thunder’s sixth-man and learning from Westbrook. Just a thought, if he improves his numbers and truly learns from Westbrook as expected, could he end up being Russell’s successor after his prime? Very possible. By that time, age-wise Dennis would be around 30 years old. The same age as Westbrook now.
Weirdly enough, it feels like Oklahoma City still won the offseason. They are the second-best team in the Western Conference right now and didn’t have to get fancy to do so. The Houston Rockets self-sabotaged themselves by letting a key defensive piece of their team walk in Trevor Ariza and possibly replacing him with Carmelo Anthony who doesn’t play much defense and will slow their fast-paced style of offense down at this point in his career. Although OKC just acquired Nerlens Noel, Schröder, and Cabarrot, those pickups plus getting Anthony off the books and signing Paul George to an unexpected long-term deal makes them a more dangerous and cohesive unit for the 2018-2019 season. Remember when the biggest weakness on this Thunder team was the bench? Well, if Alex Abrines and Jerami Grant develop into their potential this season, OKC’s bench will be one of their strengths.