Oklahoma City Thunder, currently one of the hottest teams in the NBA, has won 21 out of the last 28 games played. Paul George (pictured) is playing MVP-level basketball, averaging 32 points on 53 percent shooting over the past few weeks, and Russell Westbrook, strangely enough, has been more efficient and distributing the ball far more this year than ever before. So hows this all happened?
Roll back a couple months to the beginning of the season and the Thunder weren’t traveling too well. Westbrook was out still recovering from knee surgery, and OKC penciled in 0-4 to start the season. They were also the last team in the Western Conference to claim its first victory. Fast forward to Christmas Day, it’s a completely different story.
OKC always had problems with their bench, and they’ve seemed to have solved that one. Jerami Grant, Nerlens Noel, and rookie Hamidou Diallo all contribute to that headache. Another vain popper was Carmelo Anthony (a disguised weak link for the team), and they resolved that one by slashing him from the team and replaced him with Dennis Schröder. But the biggest improvement has been their defense. They currently have the league’s second-best defense and that’s a notable stat since Andre Roberson, perhaps the team’s best defender has missed the entire season.
From George heating up, Westbrook’s offense has cooled and that’s a good thing. He can chill on the shooting and distribute more to his team, and that makes him even more dangerous. However, OKC’s schedule gets worse and significantly tougher each and every month after December. This will be a huge task for this team to stay around the top of the Western Conference. But with incredible defense, and 2 superstars seriously jelling together, I have faith in the Thunder. This team has something to prove this year for all their players, and that comes in handy with a tough schedule.
Side Note: The Warriors-Lakers primetime headliner in Oakland, is on pace to be the most expensive Christmas Day ticket of all-time. An average listing ticket price of $885.
Catch you Thursday.