Vegas Over/Under: 51.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 52-30 The Bet: Prevent lean over
Since Kyle Wagner broke down to FiveThirtyEight, the addition of Paul George immediately vaulted the Oklahoma City Thunder back to 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 thinks so little of this Thunder seat that the remainder of the roster is worth -2 wins. That bench was awful this past year, but young players such as Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott may improve with an additional 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 staff desperately needed last year. However, with Taj Gibson likely leaving in free agency, the Thunder will be sparse. However, while their projection doesn’t put the team nearly at the amount of this Golden State Warriors, as well as the recently minted Chris Paul Houston Rockets, acquiring George should have an outsize influence 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 have been expected to win 51 games. And this was written before OKC inked Patrick Patterson–a power forward who matches perfectly with another expected starting pieces–into a deal of a bargain.
Improving much beyond the 51-win benchmark is a challenging task as the Thunder try to weave in fresh players seamlessly. But after watching Russell Westbrook serve as a one-man show during his MVP-winning campaign, they get to put much more talent around him.
Expect big things.
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