A predictable 2016-17 season was followed by one of the craziest and chaotic offseasons we have ever seen. The offseason was filled with a record number of blockbuster trades. Arguably the biggest winner of the 2017 offseason trade frenzy was the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have established themselves as consistent playoff contenders thanks to a proactive front office and a star-studded roster. In 2016 they were a championship contender, but they fell short when they blew a 3-1 lead against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
The Thunder were hungry and ready to bounce back in the 2017 campaign but former MVP Kevin Durant spelled disaster for the Thunder when he requested a trade to who else, but the Golden State Warriors. 🐍 Without their MVP small forward the Thunder barely managed made it to the playoffs on the back of Russel Westbrook, but he couldn’t carry him past the first round of the playoffs; they lost in 5 to the Houston Rockets. It was clear that if the Thunder wanted to compete with powerhouses like the Cavs and Warriors, something needed to change. So the Thunder set out to do just that, and change they did.
OKC acquired Small Forward Paul George from the Pacers in exchange for G Victor Oladipo and F Domantas Sabonis. This was an attempt to remedy the gaping hole left on their depth chart after the depart of Kevin Durant. Although Victor Oladipo was definitely a solid forward to have on your roster, he was by no means comparable to Kevin Durant. George who averaged 23.7 PPG should help the Thunder stay in games while Russ is not on the floor. Something they struggled with last season. In the first round of the playoffs last year against the Rockets, with Russ on the floor they outscored Houston by 15, while Russ was on the bench they were outscored by 58 points. George is a 4x all-star with superstar potential who will undoubtedly help the Thunder achieve their goal of winning the title.
One of the major concerns for the OKC front office was what to do when Russel Westbrook becomes a free agent next offseason after his contract expires. The Thunder were a completely different squad without Westbrook in the game. He is the backbone of this team, and last season he single-handedly earned them a playoff berth while winning his first NBA MVP and becoming just the second player (Oscar Roberson) to average a triple-double over the course of an entire season. He has constantly been praised for his loyalty to his team, but many fans feared that their beloved Russel Westbrook might not come back to play Thunder basketball in 2019. Westbrook put an end to any doubt of his loyalty and signed a monster 5 year, $205M contract extension. OKC will look to forge a dynasty with Westbrook at the helm for the next five years.
ul George was not the only major acquisition for the Thunder this offseason. On Sept. 23 the Oklahoma City Thunder acquired Carmelo Anthony for C Enes Kanter, F Doug McDermot, and Chicago’s 2018 second-round draft pick. Carmelo Anthony is an all-star caliber player who has averaged over 20 PPG each of his 15 seasons in the NBA. Melo is primarily an iso ball player which should complement Russ’ style well. Westbrook averaged over 12 APG last season and has proven his ability to share the ball.
If the new big 3 can learn to work together then the Thunder are a force reckoned with. But this will definitely take some getting used to. It is worth noting that PG, Melo, and Russ were first, second, and third in iso scoring in 2017 so it is very possible that there could be some issues as far as chemistry goes at the start of the season. But this new OKC side could very well compete with the Warriors in the West, and Eastern Conference favorites like the Celtics and Cavs for a shot at a ring.