The time is now for the Oklahoma City Thunder to make a major splash and trading for Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal is that major splash. General Manager Sam Presti will need to sell the farm to do so, but now is the time to do it. No. 3 needs to be in the 405.
The Thunder need shooting and its non-negotiable. Only three players shot better than 35 percent from three-point range this season after the previous season saw seven of their players shoot better than 35 percent from that mark. Four of the seven players that shot better than 35 percent from the previous season left the team with one of those players being Alex Abrines, who departed from the team during the season due to personal reasons. Presti failed to retool his squad, leaving Russell Westbrook and the Thunder without the weapons necessary to progress past the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
If it wasn’t for the evolution of Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson, the Thunder could have been in serious trouble. Grant improved by 10.1 percent three, while seeing a growth in opportunity by taking 2.3 more shots in the 2018-19 season, while Ferguson saw his shooting percentage grow by 3.3 percent, taking 1.9 more shots per game in the regular season. As a team on average, the Thunder went 39.9 of 88.1 per game, making 45.3 percent of their shots from the field and 10.7 of 30.4 from three-point range at 35.4 percent from the 2017-18 season. In 2018-19 the Thunder went 42.6 of 94 from the field at 45.4 percent and 11.4 of 32.6 from three at 34.8 percent. They were the 22nd ranked three-point shooting side this season 8.1 percent worse than the San Antonio Spurs who shot 39.2 percent.
Shooting is of the utmost importance this offseason, especially from behind the arc. Having only one player (Jerami Grant 39.2 percent) in the top 30 for three-point shooting is utterly woeful. Grant being 30th and the next Thunder player coming in at 35th is not good enough which is why selling the farm for Bradley Beal should be looked at. Beal is a career 38.4 percent shooter from three and has shot better than 37 percent five out of his seven seasons in the league. This seasons saw his percentage drop to 35.1 percent which is still impressive when you consider that he was the only offensive threat on the Wizards with John Wall going down early in the season. Regardless, even with being the single focus for opposing defenses, Beal’s 35.1 percent would of made him the fourth best three-point shooter on the team. With the added responsibility of being the only weapon on the Wizards, this season Beal had career highs in assists (5.5), rebounds (5.0), steals (1.5) and minutes (36.9). Beal also had a career year from the field averaging shooting 9.3 of 19.6 at 47.5 percent and 2.5 of 7.3 from three at 35.1 percent.
The Thunder have set a clear window in which they want to win a championship, and it’s a three-year window from 2018-19 to the 2021-22 season which would see Paul George and Westbrook as the only players contracted for the ’21-’22 season with George having a player option of $37,895,268 in the ’21-’22 season and Westbrook contracted for the ’21-’22 season. Westbrook will be 33 years old and George 32 it would seem to be their last season together unless a championship would be won in this window set out by Presti. With a window clearly laid out this offseason is the perfect time to go all out and make a big move and trade for Beal. Getting a trade done for Beal would be an extraordinary feat for Presti who has already pulled off an out of nowhere trade two seasons ago getting George from Indiana when the Thunder weren’t even in the conversation.
So what could Oklahoma offer the Wizards that would tempt them in giving up their best player? A trade that has been thrown around on social media and through some websites is Steven Adams, Terrance Ferguson, Jerami Grant, and the Thunders pick 21 this year and their first rounder next season for Beal and Dwight Howard. The Thunder would be giving up their starting line up and two of their best shooters from this previous season in Grant and Ferguson to go along with their best big man in Adams. There are good shooters from three available in free agency this offseason with guys like JJ Redick (39.7), Danny Green (45.5%), Vince Carter (38.9%), Terrence Ross (38.3%) and Wesley Matthews (37.2%) just to name a couple of potential additions to the roster. Beal lines up with the window the Thunder are in and would fit perfectly next to Westbrook and George.
Seeing Bradley Beal in a number 3 Oklahoma City Thunder jersey is very unlikely but not impossible and if Presti can make it happen the Thunder could see themselves in a position they haven’t been in a long time with three superstars at or close to their peak of their powers returning to the formula that took them to their first finals appearance. Westbrook would have snipers on his left and right giving him an open lane to the hoop with also plenty of room to flex his incredible passing ability. The return of defensive ace Andre Roberson from injury would also be a big addition to this roster alongside defensive player of the year candidate in George. Thunder get Beal, and winning a championship gets a lot more realistic but getting past the first round is priority one in the 405.
Stats provided by https://www.basketball-reference.com