OKC’s Thunderous Problems
The Oklahoma City Thunder have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start. After dropping their opener to the Golden State Warriors, they’ve been handed three convincing losses, including one to a not so star-studded Sacramento Kings squad.
They are now 1-4, and dead last in the Western Conference, with only the kingless Cavaliers with a worse record at 0-7.
The hard part is over. We somehow managed to convince Paul George to return to OKC and form a dynamic duo with Russell Westbrook. But the duo hasn’t been playing as well as we imagined.
They were without Westbrook in their first two games, leaving George to fend off the Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers by himself. Despite great efforts from Steven Adams in both games, it wasn’t enough to overcome the western conference foes.
In Russell’s return, the Thunder played well, but fell apart defensively, giving up 131 points to the Kings. Westbrook and George combined for 61 points, with Dennis Schroder tacking on 14 points and eight assists of his own.
The Thunder are ranked the third lowest scoring team in the league at 101.8 points per game, with only the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic lower. OKC is dead last in the league in field goal percentage, shooting just .391 percent. For reference, the first-ranked Warriors are shooting .523 percent from the field.
They are unsurprisingly ranked worst in the league in 3-point percentage as well, at an astounding .241 percent per game. Their shooting has to get better.
Without consistent shooters, OKC is left to play isolation basketball in a shooter’s league and without consistent wing play, the Thunder’s trouble aren’t out of sight.
Despite the winless record, the Thunder aren’t hopeless just yet.
First and foremost, the shooting has to get better. The Thunder are going to need someone like Terrance Ferguson or Alex Abrines to step up and start making an impact.
Schroder has been a great addition to no one’s surprise. After averaging 19.4 points per game and 6.2 assists per game with the Atlanta Hawks last season, Schroder hasn’t skipped a beat with the Thunder. Obviously his numbers were going to decline behind Westbrook, but the Thunder likes the 13.2 points a game, 7.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds from the backup point guard.
Defensively, the Thunder can improve. Despite Andre Roberson’s setback in rehab, he should look to get back to playing this season, and will provide solid defensive minutes for the Thunder.
Lastly, George and Westbrook need to find their groove. The two haven’t played to the best of their abilities yet this season. If they can start creating shots for each other and find a rhythm, the Thunder will be significantly better off.
The Thunder got their first win of the season Sunday against the Phoenix Suns.