Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 52-30 The Bet: Avoid lean over
Since Kyle Wagner broke down to FiveThirtyEight, the inclusion 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 this Thunder bench that the remainder of the roster is worth -2 wins. That seat was bad last year, but young players such as Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an extra season with the team, and this year’s first-round draft pick Terrance Ferguson has potential as a spot-up shot on the wing, and also the team desperately needed last year. Still, with Taj Gibson likely leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be thin. However, while their projection does not put 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 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 fits perfectly with another expected starting pieces–into a deal of a deal.
Improving much beyond the 51-win benchmark is a challenging job as the Thunder attempt to weave in new players seamlessly. But after viewing Russell Westbrook function as a one-man show during his MVP-winning campaign, they get to put so much more talent .
Expect huge things.