When the NBA offseason began, things got a little crazy! It felt like every moment there was a big free agency signing or a huge trade, but then it died down. Over the last month, there’s been a few things pop up here and there, but it was nothing like what we saw at the start.
After a little break from the mind-blowing offseason, the mind-blowing has returned! Carmelo Anthony is now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s finally free from New York! He’s moving on to bigger and better things, and by that I mean Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
Oklahoma City now has their own big three. You’ve got the reigning MVP in Westbrook, an All-Star in Paul George, and a dynamic scorer in Carmelo Anthony. Let’s give credit where it’s due. Sam Presti, GM for the Thunder, has been incredible this offseason. He’s now turned Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a second round pick into Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. He may have given up some depth, but he got some stars in return.
With the addition of Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City now has three stars with different dynamics. While each of them will be big contributors all around, each will have a key role in the success or failure of this team.
What is there to say about Westbrook that hasn’t already been said? The guy is incredible! He led the league in scoring, averaged a triple-double, led his team to a 33-9 record when he had a triple-double, and carried his team to a 47-35 record overall. He did anything and everything for this team last year, and now he has help.
Westbrook is going to be the guy who has the ball in his hands. How could he not be? He is the reigning MVP after all. This guy is the heart and soul of this team. You can tell that he wants to win every game. I have no doubt about that. That’s exactly what a leader does. A leader doesn’t quit. A leader gives their all until the very end, and that’s what Westbrook does.
While his numbers may take a hit by the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, his effort and desire to win will still be there.
Paul George was the leader of the Indiana Pacers for years. He led several of his teams to elite defensive status. Paul George can get it done offensively, and I expect him to score his fair share of points, but where he can really make an impact on this team is on the defensive side of the ball. Oklahoma City ranked 8th in defensive efficiency last season, and with Paul George anchoring the defense, that number could rise.
I like to think of Paul George as a player who makes everyone else around him better. I can’t speak from a player’s perspective, but I would think that as a teammate, he would give you confidence defensively. When Paul George is guarding someone, his teammates won’t have to worry. They can focus on their job.
When I call Carmelo Anthony the scorer, I’m not suggesting that he should be the primary ball handler in any way. His role should be to wait for Westbrook to give him the ball when he’s open, and then capitalize on great looks.
Anthony has never scored less than 20 points in his career, but that was as the star player. He’s still A star, but he’s no longer THE star. If Oklahoma City lets Carmelo Anthony handle the ball too much, it will hurt the offense. There’s a reason why Carmelo has never taken his teams very far.
Oklahoma City needs to let Westbrook, and sometimes George take the attention. When the attention is on them, that’s when the ball should go to Carmelo. If he gets a good look, he can score. I expect Westbrook to still lead this team in scoring, but now he has another true scoring threat by side his side.
I don’t want to say that this team is a lock to go deep into the playoffs. Sometimes you get stars together and it doesn’t work out, or maybe it takes time to figure it out. We’ve definitely seen that before. While I don’t want to say I’m for sure about what this team will be, I can say that I like what each star player brings to this team. If each of them plays their role, I think this team will be good.
Regardless of how Oklahoma City does next season, it will be exciting to watch. So much has changed this offseason. It almost feels like an entirely new NBA. This offseason has already been incredible, and now Oklahoma City has added some Thunder.