Up until two titans clashed last night, the OKC Thunder were the only undefeated team in the Western Conference. Following a dismal loss to Golden State last night, the Thunder still hold a first place spot in the West. Ok, they’re tied for first with the Spurs and the Warriors. Semantics.
OKC’s first 5 games of the season have sparked a lot of hope. Russell Westbrook is on absolute fire. With Kevin Durant out of the way, Russ no longer has to share ball time and it is showing.
Westbrook already has 2 ¾ triple-doubles in five games (Westbrook was one assist shy of a triple-double against the 76ers, which counts for partial credit in Megametrics). In fact, he’s basically averaging a triple-double, even after last night’s loss: 34.2 PTS 9.6 REB 10 AST. The man is inspired.
Now in his 4th season with the Thunder, Steven Adams has settled into his role as starting Center and is shining. I’m sure the $100 million contract extension he just got didn’t hurt either. Adams and Westbrook’s chemistry is undeniable this year as they embarrass opponent’s defense every game with their intuitive pick and rolls.
Since the playoffs last year, Adams has made his presence known under the basket. The big kiwi is almost averaging a double-double so far this season with 10.4 PTS and 8.4 REB per game.
New additions, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis have been welcome surprises. Both have paired incredibly well with OKC’s starting lineup. Sabonis is averaging above 50% in field goals which is a number any rookie would kill to see. Oladipo is like Westbrook’s shadow. He’s everywhere, all the time, ready and willing. He is struggling with the quality over quantity aspect, but is still averaging 16.2 points per game.
The Thunder’s weaknesses were revealed in Thursday’s loss to Golden State. The Warriors had Westbrook in double coverage most of the night which really hindered OKC’s game play. You take the reins off the horses and they all run wild. Caging Russ got into his head, a bit, and threw off the chemistry of the starting 5 which is a vital component of OKC’s gameplay so far this season.
The Thunder are also in dire need of a leader off the bench. Westbrook can’t play the whole game and we can’t sit on our hands waiting for Cameron Payne to return from injury. While every team might not be throwing guys like Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala at the secondary, the Thunder will still have to go through GSW to win a title.
The Thunder get a bit of break the next two games, facing the Timberwolves (1-3) tomorrow and the Heat (2-2) on Monday. This weekend poses the perfect time for the Thunder to play around with line mates before heading to the Raptors (3-1) on Wednesday.
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