What a roller-coaster ride for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. By recruiting Paul George and Carmelo Anthony last summer, OKC had a new “big three” alongside Russell Westbrook. However, the actual season posed mixed results as the team was plagued with inconsistency and selfish ball play. OKC was able to finish out strong in 4th place of a conference that is stacked and will need this momentum to continue into the playoffs.
Why They Will Win
Russell Westbrook! The man has been dominating for most of the season and will need to continue to play at a high level if OKC wants to get past Utah in the first round. If George and Anthony can contribute like all (yes I mean all) of us thought was possible when the moves were announced that they were coming to OKC, this could be ugly for Utah.
Why They Won’t
Inconsistency (and you can’t solely blame Westbrook)! Carmelo struggled to find his role, George had to adjust to a new one and Andre Roberson‘s mid-season injury was crippling. OKC needs to find a way to be consistent, because if they don’t they will not make it past the defensive juggernaut that is the Jazz.
Westbrook averaged a triple-double last season and won MVP in 2016-17. After pulling down 20 rebounds in the season finale Wednesday, Westbrook tacked another triple-double season on his resume but likely won’t finish in the top-five in MVP voting. That is because after winning 47 games last season, the Thunder won 48. That is because despite adding an All-NBA forward in George and a perennial All-Star in Anthony, Oklahoma City projects to be in a first-round dogfight for the second year in a row. This pressure sits on on Westbrook’s shoulders, as it is now time for him to step up and lead this team to prove all the haters wrong.
Best Case Scenario:
The Thunder make it past Utah in the first round and continue to keep fighting with a added confidence boost.
Worst Case Scenario:
The Thunder lose to Utah in the first round, which will probably lead to George leaving in the summer, which would be the second time the Thunder have lost a franchise player.