The Oklahoma City Thunder came into the season with high expectations. After making a pair of blockbuster moves to acquire Paul George from the Pacers, and Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks, everyone was ready to hear the Thunder roar in 2017.
The boys in blue are off to a rough start at 15-15, they are currently in the 7th seed in the wild wild west. They have shown signs of what they could be, when they blew out the Warriors earlier this season. They have also lost to a terrible Knicks team lacking Kristoff Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr.
They have also dropped games to the Nets, Kings, and Mavericks.
There are many problems with the Thunder, their biggest being they have no real solutions.
1. Carmelo Anthony
Put down your pitchforks, Melo stans. He is not the only reason OKC is struggling to play consistent ball, but he is a big part of it.
The 33-year-old has not accepted the fact he is now 33, and father time is undefeated. He seemingly refuses to come off the bench, starting all the way back at NBA Media Days this summer with his infamous quote of “Who, me?” when asked if he would come off the bench for OKC.
Melo, like the rest of the OK3, has shot poorly. Hitting just 40% of his shots from the field, and nailing three point shots at just a 33% clip. The talk this summer was about how much rebounding help Anthony might add in OKC, and that has not happened yet either. He averages 6 boards a game for a starting power forward–albeit positionless basketball–The Anthony experiment has not gotten off to a great start, but for a market like OKC, anytime you can attract a hall of famer, you have to pull the trigger.
2. Russell Westbrook
Yes, the lord and savior, the messiah in the eyes of many Thunder fans is playing terrible basketball.
Although he has already racked up a bunch of triple doubles, they have been quite empty when he shoots as poorly as he has this season, and the way-too-many-turnovers trend continues.
Russell Westbrook still is not finishing well at the rim, and he cannot make free throws with any consistency. Many have blamed this on being a new father, his knee injections from this offseason, and also finding his rhythm with new players. Whatever it is, if the Thunder want to win, he needs to turn back into the old Russ, the MVP Russ, and the game Monday against the Nuggets when he put up 38-points, 6-assists, and 9-rebounds. He had a plus 13 for the game, and only turned the ball over three times.
Raymond Felton started the year off hot, and was dubbed the firefighter, putting out whatever fires OKC got into before he entered the game, he has cooled off over the last week.
Alex Abrines was supposed to be amazing, depending on who you talked to. However, his shots just have not fallen consistently but that has improved over recent weeks.
Patrick Patterson, who was originally going to start on this team, started slow off the bench, but he too has turned it on in the last two games.
Jerami Grant has been incredible, and under different sets of circumstances would have earned a starting nod by now.
Josh Huestis has been one of the best role players in basketball at times. Just like with the OK3, the Thunder’s bench unit lacks consistency.
OKC will not blow this thing up, they have no reason to. The damage is already done, they will get nothing–literally nothing–for Melo, and the return on Paul George will not warrant enough to not even try this thing in the playoffs.
The Thunder also do not regret making these moves, they just cannot. Victor Oladipo has turned into a legitimate star, but he was never going to develop into that with Russell Westbrook simply because his usage was not going to be as high as it is now.
Would they want Domantas Sabonis back? I would, but I was always against giving up the young developing big man.
Doug McDermott and Enes Kanter ran their course in OKC. Kanter as a personality is something we all long for to make the season more entertaining, but as far as on court play, it is easily replaceable. So as frustrating as it is, Thunder fans just have to sit, and wait, and hope for better days.