Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 52-30 The Bet: Avoid but lean over
Since Kyle Wagner broke down for FiveThirtyEight, the addition of Paul George immediately vaulted the Oklahoma City Thunder back into contention in the Western Conference:
“The top-5 of Westbrook, George, Enes Kanter, Steven Adams and Andre Roberson are worth 53 wins on their own. But CARMELO thinks so little of this Thunder bench that the rest of the roster is worth -2 wins. That seat was bad this past season, but young players such as Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an additional season with the group, and this year’s first-round draft select Terrance Ferguson has potential as a spot-up shot on the wing, and also the staff desperately needed last season. Still, with Taj Gibson likely leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be sparse. But while their projection does not put the team almost at the amount of the Golden State Warriors, as well as the recently minted Chris Paul Houston Rockets, obtaining George should have an outsize influence on the Thunder.”
The TL;DR version this is that even without factoring in the upside that stems from potential internal improvement, the Thunder already should have been expected to acquire 51 games. And this was written prior to OKC inked Patrick Patterson–a power forwards who fits perfectly with the other expected starting pieces–to a deal of a deal.
Improving much past the 51-win benchmark is a challenging job as the Thunder try to weave in fresh players seamlessly. But after watching Russell Westbrook function as a one-man show during his MVP-winning effort, they now get to put much more talent around him.
Expect huge things.
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