2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: Oklahoma City Thunder
The 2018-2019 NBA season starts October 16th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
48-34, 2nd in Northwest Division, 4th. Lost 4-2 in the first round to Utah Jazz
Before the season started, the Thunder had a lot of hype and most thought they would be one of the best teams in the league. They added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to team with star Russell Westbrook, and while they were good, they never clicked like we all thought they would. OKC started slowly but got red hot thanks to great defense led by Andre Roberson. However, once he went down. OKC struggled with consistency.
Melo was a terrible fit and George started hot but struggled with a troublesome elbow down the stretch. In the playoffs, they were exposed by Utah, who simply out executed the Thunder. It was a disappointing end to the season that led to some changes during the offseason.
Carmelo Anthony, F
Nerlens Noel, C; Hamidou Diallo, SG; Dennis Schroeder, PG; Timothy Luwawu Cabarrot, G/F.
Player to Watch:
Terrance Ferguson, SG
The Thunder project to be one of the best teams in the West again despite it being a brutal conference. Getting rid of Melo is addition by subtraction and bringing back Roberson will help their defense tremendously. Resigning George was huge for the organization, as was retaining Jerami Grant. Noel will give them depth up front and OKC projects to be a top five defense in the league. Westbrook is finally working on his three-point shot and if he gets a consistent one it will go a long way for a team that is dangerously thin on shooting, especially from deep.
The other main addition was Schroder, who should be an upgrade at backup point guard. However, it will be interesting to see how he plays with Westbrook as both have troubleshooting and Schroder is a terrible defender. Keep an eye on Ferguson; the second-year shooting guard is the Thunder's best hope of getting a quality shooter, despite a rough rookie year.
Worst Case Scenario:
Westbrook gets hurt, the offense falls apart and in the brutal Western Conference, the Thunder fall out of the picture at 41-41.
Best Case Scenario:
OKC becomes one of the best defenses in the league, Westbrook and George have all-NBA seasons, Schroder emerges as a sixth man and Ferguson as a quality shooter and the Thunder finish 58-24 and second in the West.
54-28, 2nd in the Northwest Division, fifth in the Western Conference.