With the Carmelo Anthony trade being official, we now have yet another big three in the NBA. Does OKC have enough to compete against the Warriors in the wicked west?
The Starting Lineup
With the huge additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a totally revamped lineup heading into the new season. With last year’s MVP Russell Westbrook and two other superstar players, the Thunder are in a real position to compete for a title this year.
It will be interesting to see how Billy Donovan manages all the moving parts in the starting lineup. I think it will include Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Anthony, George and Steven Adams from one to five.
Now what is on paper and the roles each player actually plays will look a lot different. There will be times with George or Melo playing the two essentially, but for now this looks about right for what we will see on opening night on the score card.
The really intriguing thing to look for will be how they utilize Anthony on the defensive end of the floor. This team has a lot of options with how they can mix and match players on defense with the versatility of Westbrook and George. Melo will be switched and hid from bad matchups on defense because of OKC’s ability to guard multiple positions. Look for Roberson to be taking the three in most defensive stands with Melo on the perimeter.
The hardest thing for the Thunder will be deciding who takes the last shot between Westbrook, George and Anthony, which is a good problem to have.
Can They Beat The Warriors?
The only question that every one asked themselves when the trade was announced was can they challenge the Warriors? So let’s see how they compare to the defending champs.
The rulers of the Western Conference for the past few seasons have undoubtedly been the team to beat. Coming off an NBA championship, everyone is expecting a repeat. However, the more I look at the matchups between this new OKC team and the Warriors, the more I think the Thunder may have a slight edge on them. The reason for that is.
The MVP Russell Westbrook! The reason the Warriors had such success against the Thunder last season (4-0) was their ability to double up on Westbrook and constantly give him different looks throughout the game. Now with the additions of Melo and PG, the Warriors won’t be able to expend multiple defenders on Westbrook like last year.
All he had last year was Victor Oladipo and Adams, so the Warriors essentially said they were going to double team you every time and make your teammates step up, and they couldn’t.
So what are the Warriors going to do now? Steph Curry is your point guard and by no means is considered an elite defender. If they switch Kevin Durant or Draymond Green, then who will guard George and Anthony? Curry certainly can’t take them either. This essentially makes Curry a defensive liability in this matchup, and the bench will have to find an answer for the most dominate guard in the league.
The games between the Thunder and the Warriors are going to be a war of matchups between the two coaches. On paper, I think it’s more difficult for the Warriors to guard the Thunder then it is vice versa. This isn’t even mentioning the advantage they have at the center position with Adams against Zaza Pachulia or JaVale McGee!
Where the Warriors have the clear advantage is 10 minutes into the game when the benches start to come out. Not to be disrespectful, but the Thunder’s bench is pathetic. They have absolutely no size after shipping off Enes Kanter in the Anthony trade.
About that reporter who asked Anthony about the possibility of him coming off the bench, he must have not looked at the roster too hard. They have NOBODY. Raymond Felton, Kyle Singler and Nick Collison are no match for Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and David West. These guys are proven NBA vets against the waiver wire in your fantasy basketball league.
If I had to pick right now who I think would win a seven-game series, I would pick the Warriors in six or seven games. It really all depends on how the Thunder gel together because we already know the Warriors are meshing quite well.
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