Paul George stated during Thunder Media Day that the Thunder are built to contend for a championship. That statement may be laughable to some around the league but when thinking about chemistry and balance, George may not be too far off with his prediction.
“We’ve got the chemistry,” said George. “Me being around these guys going on about to be two years now, there’s an expectation and a level we know we need to play at. I think the consistency part you’ll see with us now being able to play well against the sub-.500 teams. But I definitely think this team has a chance. The reason why I signed back here is that I believed in it. And everybody in here believes. It’s on us, we’ve got our work cut out and it’s not going to be easy, but we’re up for it.”
Chemistry is something this team will have that they were without last season. With Carmelo Anthony comes a lot of attention, and with a lot of attention comes potential ego problems, among other things. Last season, it’s not that egos were the problem but this team’s cohesiveness didn’t seem to be very high, which affected their play on the court.
Melo is an all-time great, don’t get that confused, but his style of play didn’t fit the style of the rest of the team, especially the starting lineup, and that damaged OKC’s chemistry.
This season is different. As stated in our last piece , the starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, George, Andre Roberson, potentially Jerami Grant and Steven Adams is elite. Offensively, they are dangerous. Westbrook, George, and Adams on average combine for 61 points per game alone. Also, if Jerami Grant is inserted into the starting lineup, he’ll have more touches, more minutes and as result, increased point production. Last season, he averaged 8.7 points per game.
Defensively, the starting core is just as dangerous. Westbrook is capable of being one of the best defenders at his position in the league, but the question is, will he apply himself on that end of the floor? One thing we do know is that Roberson, George, Grant, and Adams are strong in that department.
When Grant is included in the lineup with Westbrook, Roberson, and Adams, Oklahoma City’s defensive rating is 79.6, which would place them easily as a top-tier defensive team.
Obviously, this is all speculation. The Thunder will have to go out there and back all this talk up but on paper, things look increasingly promising. We’ve talked about the bench and how great it could be but if their starting lineup plays to their full potential, who knows where this team could go.