Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 52-30 The Bet: Prevent but lean over
Since Kyle Wagner broke down for FiveThirtyEight, the addition of Paul George immediately reversed 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 on their own. But CARMELO believes so little of the Thunder seat that the rest of the roster is worth -2 wins. That bench was awful last season, but young players such as Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an additional season with the group, and this year’s first-round draft pick Terrance Ferguson has potential as a spot-up shot on the wing, and also the staff desperately needed last year. However, with Taj Gibson probably leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be sparse. However, while their projection does not place the team nearly at the level of this Golden State Warriors, or even the newly minted Chris Paul Houston Rockets, acquiring George should have an outsize effect on the Thunder.»
The TL;DR version this is that even without factoring in the upside that stems from possible internal advancement, the Thunder already should have been expected to win 51 games. And that was written prior to OKC inked Patrick Patterson—a power forward who fits perfectly with the other anticipated starting pieces—to a bargain of a bargain.
Improving much beyond the 51-win benchmark is a challenging job as the Thunder attempt to weave in new players effortlessly. But after watching Russell Westbrook function as a one-man show throughout his MVP-winning effort, they now get to place much more talent .
Expect big things.
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