Writer: Elijah Folsom
The Thunder proved in their game against the Warriors that the reigning champs are vulnerable this year even though many people believe they are still the best team in the NBA. The Thunder have developed a new big three that is still struggling to gain rhythm this year, but when they are all on the same page they look like the best team in basketball. But is it enough to win the Championship this year? Here are a few points that may convince you.
When people see Andre Roberson in the starting lineup of a Thunder game you might see some people leaning to the person next to you and saying…Who? But Roberson has proved that he can be an exceptional defender on the perimeter and can limit the offensive production of stars like Lebron James and Kevin Durant. Roberson is a terrible three point shooter and a mediocre free throw shooter, but can finish at the rim well and has good vision on the court.
Steven Adams has been great for the Thunder this year in filling his role as the starting center. He is averaging 13 points and eight rebounds a game this year, and has continued to improve throughout his career. Adams is also shooting 66% from the floor this year which is very efficient and is almost a guaranteed bucket when passed the ball is given to him in the middle.
The Thunder now have versatility.
With the new addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to the team, Westbrook can now take less of the load for the team. In the playoff series last year vs. the Houston Rockets, it was night and day when Westbrook was on and off of the floor. Westbrook had to give everything he had every single night for the Thunder last year just for them to have a chance of winning. Now they have a very talented big three that can score in a variety of ways. Paul George has already shown that he can be at times unguardable with having nights where he puts up 42 points. Carmelo is also playing well and has two 28 point nights on the season and is averaging 20 points a game this year.
The Thunder have already proven that they can beat the Warriors.
When the Thunder played the Warriors on the 22nd they were ready to play. The Thunder took the lead straight from the opening tip and never looked back. They shut down Klay Thompson and Draymond Green holding them to 13 points combined on the night, and Kevin Durant and Steph Curry only had 45 points combined. And just to add to the flame Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant got into it with each other. While the conflict is nowhere near the height that it was at the start of last season, you could tell that they did not like each other on the court. This is only a benefit to the Thunder because it obviously threw Kevin Durant off of his game that night.
While the Thunder still have a long way to go this season with figuring out how to play at the highest level every single night, they can seriously pose a massive threat to the Warriors and the rest of the NBA as championship contenders.