The Oklahoma City Thunder were the favorites to dethrone the Golden State Warriors last season out west before the season started. Those talks quickly evaporated when Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook weren't meshing well offensively together. They also evaporated when the Houston Rockets took off early and often during the 2017-2018 season.
The Thunder will have a different look this season. They traded Carmelo Anthony this offseason in a three-team trade. He went to the Atlanta Hawks and so did a future 2022 first-round pick from Oklahoma City. The Thunder received point guard Dennis Schroder from Atlanta and guard/forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot from the Philadelphia 76ers. Guard/forward Justin Anderson was traded the Hawks from the 76ers. Philadelphia received center/forward Mike Muscala from the Atlanta Hawks.
Paul George also signed a four-year contract extension. He is in the prime of his career at 28 years old. George was a free agent and he decided to stay. It is very interesting that Paul George decided not to go home and play for the Los Angeles Lakers. He grew up in Palmdale California, which is a suburb north of Los Angeles.
Head Coach Billy Donovan is under pressure to win a playoff series this season. He hasn't a won playoff series in two seasons. The last time the Oklahoma City Thunder won a playoff series was back in 2016 in the second-round against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will probably be a three, four, or five seed in the west this season and probably win somewhere between 48-52 games. They should win a playoff series depending on the match up, but the Thunder will probably not beat the Houston Rockets or the Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series.
Projected starting lineup: © Steven Adams, (PF) Patrick Patterson, (SF) Paul George, (SG) Andre Roberson, and (PG) Russell Westbrook.
Key players off the bench: (G) Alex Abrines, (F) Corey Brewer, © Nerlens Noel, (PG) Dennis Schroder, (F) Jerami Grant, and (G) Terrance Ferguson.
Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the second consecutive season. That is the first time in NBA history that has happened.
The Oklahoma City Thunder should be a fun team to watch again in the NBA this upcoming season. It is unknown when they will open up training camp. The Thunder open up the season on the road on Tuesday October 16 against the back-to-back champions, the Golden State Warriors.