Russell Westbrook's Year of Vengeance ended the only way possible: With the MVP firing a hail of long-range missiles. In the finale of a 4--1 defeat to the Rockets in the first round, Westbrook put up 18 threes (and made just five).
That playoff series was a reminder that while Westbrook became the most reliably breathtaking performer in the league last season, his one-man act wasn't sustainable. Now we'll see what the triple double terror can do with help.
In June the Thunder swapped Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for Paul George; three months later they flipped Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott for Carmelo Anthony. With the All-Star acquisitions come new issues: Will there be enough shots to go around? Can Westbrook keep his fellow stars (and himself) happy?
Oklahoma City looks as loaded as any team outside of Golden State—don't forget Steven Adams and Andre Roberson anchoring the defense—and the goal should be the conference finals. Westbrook's rampage was must-see basketball last season; this summer's pickups and plot twists make the Thunder even more riveting.
COACH BILLY DONOVAN
(3rd season with Thunder)
2016--17 RECORD 47--35
(2nd in Northwest)
6 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
PG RUSSELL WESTBROOK
31.6 PPG; 10.7 RPG; 10.4 APG; 42.5 FG%
SG ANDRE ROBERSON
6.6 PPG; 5.1 RPG; 1.2 SPG; 46.4 FG%
12 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
SF PAUL GEORGE [NEW ACQUISITION]
23.7 PPG; 6.6 RPG; 46.1 FG%; 39.3 3FG%
37 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
PF CARMELO ANTHONY [NEW ACQUISITION]
22.4 PPG; 5.9 RPG; 43.3 FG%; 35.9 FG%
47 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
C STEVEN ADAMS
11.3 PPG; 7.7 RPG; 1.0 BPG; 57.1 FG%
PG RAYMOND FELTON [NEW ACQUISITION]
6.7 PPG; 2.7 RPG; 2.4 APG; 43.0 FG%
98 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
PF PATRICK PATTERSON [NEW ACQUISITION]
6.8 PPG; 4.5 RPG; 40.1 FG%; 37.2 3FG%
SG ALEX ABRINES
6.0 PPG; 1.3 RPG; 39.3 FG%; 38.1 3FG%
• THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP OKLAHOMA CITY
I'm lukewarm about them even after the CARMELO ANTHONY trade. Last year they were three pieces away. Now they're still one piece away. PAUL GEORGE and Anthony will make RUSSELL WESTBROOK's life easier, but they still need one more two-way wing to match up with the best teams.... George will be getting squeezed from both sides because Anthony is going to take lots of shots. If Anthony doesn't get them, he'll check out and the whole plan will fall apart. I could see them trading George before the deadline if the chemistry doesn't click.... I think Westbrook will be the back-to-back MVP. He's not that traditional pass-first guy, but he attracts so much attention that everyone else benefits. His aggressiveness sets them up.... ANDRE ROBERSON is a very good defensive player, but he kills an offense. We'll be here in five years waiting for him to learn to shoot a basic jump shot.... There are some matchups where STEVEN ADAMS is at risk because he's a traditional center, but he gets by better than most 7-footers. He stays very busy on the offensive glass, which helps a lot.... PATRICK PATTERSON is a glue guy, but he can't make plays for you in the playoffs. He will disappear.... RAYMOND FELTON is really important for them. I can see them playing him with Westbrook just to balance the load and make sure that Felton can help keep George involved offensively.... Their bench is just specialty guys who make you cringe when they're on the court. JERAMI GRANT is fun in transition but worthless in a half-court game. KYLE SINGLER is making good money to wave a towel.
TELLING 5 of 18 STATISTIC
If they have any hope of unseating Golden State, they're going to have to learn to share like the Dubs.