Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 52-30 The Bet: Avoid but lean over
As 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 all on their own. However, CARMELO thinks so little of this Thunder bench that the rest of the roster is worth -2 wins. That seat was bad last season, but young players such as Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an additional season with the group, and this season’s first-round draft select Terrance Ferguson has potential as a spot-up shot on the wing, which the staff desperately wanted last season. However, with Taj Gibson probably leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be thin. However, while their projection does not put the team nearly at the amount of this Golden State Warriors, as well as the newly minted Chris Paul Houston Rockets, acquiring George should have an outsize influence on the Thunder.”
The TL;DR version here is that even without factoring in the upside that stems from possible 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 forward who matches perfectly with the other expected starting pieces–to a deal of a deal.
Improving much past the 51-win benchmark is a difficult task as the Thunder attempt to weave in fresh players effortlessly. But after watching Russell Westbrook serve as a one-man show throughout his MVP-winning effort, they now get to place much more talent around him.
Expect big things.
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