Oklahoma City is a hard team to figure out. They have beaten the Rockets and the Warriors and a lot of other quality teams. It seems though, for stretches they are just anemic, especially on defense, and not particularly efficient on offense. A lot of this stems from the fact that Russell Westbrook, though an amazing player to watch is not terribly efficient. He is shooting the 8th most shots in the league and is shooting 45.1 from the field and 28.7 from 3. I believe this really effects Paul George who is shooting 43.8 from the field and 40.6 with the 19th most shots taken at the end of games. Paul George has become a superstar in this league the past few years and matching him up with someone who takes a lot of shots, inefficiently, and has an assist to turnover ratio of 2.2. That’s just not winning basketball. He can pad the stat line with as many triple doubles as he likes but it’s not going to tell the true story. That’s why Oscar Robertson isn’t considered the best NBA player of all time when he was the first to average a triple double for a season.
Paul George is also joined by an aging Carmelo Anthony, who despite being a serviceable rotation player is.just a shell of his old self. He’s actually averaging more 3s attempted a game this year than the previous 4 seasons. One may say well that is indicative of his new role, but look he’s only shooting 36.3 percent from 3, that is not a number that bodes well for the Thunder. If they want to utilize Carmelo to the fullest they must put him down on the low block, he has a big frame and a great post up move. That is the best way to utilize him, as a power forward. This also must frustrate George because all that is doing is taking away shots he can consistently make and giving them to someone who can’t, it also clogs the lane and makes it hard for them to spread the floor evenly.
Steven Adams has been a monster this year and is a player with a high ceiling who can bang with the bigs down low and actually has some dependable moves offensively.
The truth is, these pieces can coexist, but they must restructure if they want to keep George long term. Russell Westbrook is an athlete that should be able to beat anyone in off ball screens, and Carmelo setting off ball picks for him and posting up sounds like a great solution. If those strategies are implemented this team is scary and can beat anyone. Just as soon as the stop beating themselves. I believe Pau George will stay, because he likes playing with other stars and if he went to a team like LA it would take a while for them to even get to a contending status. When Andre Roberson comes back next year it will take the defensive pressure off Paul George and he will flourish. This team will be an unstoppable force if Billy Donavan can just realize how to maximize these stars. Hopefully he will.