Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
The Record Projection: 52-30 of fromal The Bet: Avoid lean over
Since Kyle Wagner broke down to 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 all on their own. But CARMELO believes so little of the Thunder seat that the remainder of the roster is worth -2 wins. That bench was awful last season, but young players like Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an extra season with the group, and this year’s first-round draft select 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 thin. But while their projection doesn’t put the team almost at the amount of this Golden State Warriors, as well as the recently minted Chris Paul Houston Rockets, obtaining George should have an outsize effect on the Thunder.”
The TL;DR version here is that even without factoring in the upside which stems from possible internal improvement, the Thunder already should’ve been expected to win 51 games. And this was written before OKC inked Patrick Patterson–a power forward who matches perfectly with another anticipated starting pieces–to a deal of a bargain.
Improving much beyond the 51-win benchmark is a difficult task as the Thunder try to weave in new players effortlessly. But after viewing Russell Westbrook serve as a one-man show throughout his MVP-winning campaign, they now get to put much more talent .
Expect big things.