Words by Jason Cordner
The Thunder won the NBA offseason, hands down. Sam Presti somehow turned Victor Oladipo, Domas Sabonis, Doug McDermott, Enes Kanter, and a second-rounder into Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
Regardless of whether he’s actually capable of mind control or he’s just a very lucky beneficiary of Eastern Conference incompetence, the fact of the matter is that he’s quickly assembled a roster around reigning MVP Russell Westbrook that might have the best chance of overthrowing the Golden State Warriors.
With Westbrook signing a massive extension and Paul George making overtures of how he loves Oklahoma City, this could be the new look for the Thunder for years to come. How will these three stars jell this season? And does the rest of the roster have the strength to support this team and propel it to postseason success?
Player To Watch : Carmelo Anthony
While “Hoodie Melo” was all the rage in the offseason, “Olympic Melo” is finally set to make his first prolonged appearance in the NBA. Despite evidence he can be a devastating force playing more as a small-ball four, Anthony long resisted that role during his time in New York. But Melo has changed his tune upon arriving in OKC, where he is seemingly set to embrace being the team’s primary power forward.
Predictions and Expectations
The Thunder are load with talent. They might need a month or two to gel. In the best-case season for Oklahoma City, Billy Donovan manages the rotation and the three stars thrive together. Carmelo Anthony is dynamic with defenses keyed in on Westbrook and George, and does turn into “Olympic Melo” as so many are hoping for. George happily accepts the second-banana role and plays hard every night. Look for the Thunder to win 55 games and challenge the Warriors all season long for Western Conference supremacy.