2017-2018 NBA Previews – Oklahoma City Thunder Odds
Looking for 2017 Oklahoma City Thunder Predictions? We’ve got your back. The Thunder pulled off one of the biggest (and most surprising) moves this offseason picking up superstar forward Paul George from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Demantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo. Considering how solid OKC ended up being last year in a season sans Kevin Durant, things are looking up for the Thunder.
OKC Team Season Preview
Head Coach: Billy Donovan
2016-17 Record: 47-35
TEAM Odds to NBA Title: +2500
TEAM Odds to Win Conference: +1600
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The catch to all of this is that despite the optimism for 2017-18, Thunder fans are going to be holding their collective breath all year knowing that both George and Russell Westbrook are free agents this coming offseason.
The Thunder are going to be good this year—that isn’t up for debate. What is up for debate is whether or not the team will be good enough to retain both stars in free agency 2018.
Oklahoma City Thunder Strengths:
If you read our pre-season previews for all 30 teams, you won’t find us pointing to a single player very often as far as a team’s strengths. This, however, is one of the exceptions.
The Thunder’s success last season began and ended with Westbrook. He became the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double, and he did it posting a ridiculous line of (all team highs) 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game (as well as a team high 1.6 steals).
Talent, drive and motivation were certainly the key factors in putting together such an impressive showing. You don’t get anywhere in the Association without that combination, and there’s no question he was particularly motivated in his MVP season with Kevin Durant doing his thing with the Golden State Warriors.
That said, it was also a “system” result. We put “system” in quotes because all this was turned out to be essentially giving Russ the ball and letting him do his thing.
Last season, his usage rate, per Basketball-Reference, was 41.7, which led the league by a long shot.
Aside from Westbrook, we’ll point to this team’s toughness with a guy like Steven Adams commanding the post on both ends.
He’s not a traditional low-post scorer, but with Westbrook commanding so much of the defensive attention, he’s able to take full advantage of easy looks while defending the rim on the other end.
We also can’t get away with exiting the strengths section without looking at Westbrook’s newest running mate, Paul George. George is a certified superstar in his own right who can play both ends of the ball.
Last year, Russ had no consistent second option on offense. Now he has a player for whom he can create on a regular basis, not to mention a player who can create his own looks against any defense the league has to offer.
Oklahoma City Thunder Weaknesses:
As much as we’ve raved about Westbrook, we do have to point out the obvious.
He was completely worn down by the time his run in the playoffs came to a close.
The Thunder need to get him some help. Having George on the roster will help—there’s no doubt about that. But we can’t assume George is going to be given the freedom to create in a Donovan offense.
If the Thunder let Westbrook run the show he did last year, the stat lines will be amazing and the wins will be plenty; however, the big-picture success will suffer and finding a tertiary scorer behind him and George will be difficult.
OKC needs to take some of the pressure off its No. 1 star for the betterment of the team.
Oklahoma City Thunder Betting Prediction: 50-32
Vegas has set the over/under on this team at 51.5. While that probably won’t prove to be far off, we’re pegging that number as slightly high and going with the under at this point in the process.
The reason we don’t trust that number quite yet is because we don’t trust that Westbrook is going to actually make George better. There’s no doubt the Thunder are a better team with George than without, but in a brutal Western Conference, you have to have a high-octane team—not just a high-octane star.
Give the Thunder 50 wins, and give them a fourth or fifth seed finish. But beyond that, we just don’t see the team living up to the hype of the true elites above them.
2017 NBA Gambling
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