The Oklahoma City Thunder lineup is going to be a really tough guard if they can find a way to get into the playoffs. I know we are a long way from the tournament – but they have some heat on that team, and I think more should be keeping an eye on them. They have several guys who are all above average to top end shooters, with 3 guys who can knock down 46% or better from the floor who take 12 or more shots / game, and they don’t have anyone on the team who soaks up a ton of wasted possessions, chucking up bad shots. They have a handful of guys who can also put the ball on the floor, and make plays as well.
Dennis Schroder has compiled an impressive body of work statistically with 18ppg and 47% shooting – coming off the bench, and still amassing 31 minutes /game. Schroder was the teams best player vs 2 of the better teams in the conference, the Clippers and vs the Jazz during a 2 week stretch, when he netted 28 and 27 points on 49% shooting in those games, which shows he can get it done with ease. Schroder hasn’t had great postseason success – when playing with Atlanta for his first 4 years in the league, with just one strong run in 14-15 when he didn’t get a lot of shots and never saw the court much.
Chris Paul’s shot creation skills off ISO plays have been incredibly good for a guy of his age. Paul turned 34 years old and has been having his best shooting season since 16-17 season, at 47%. He is super effective, and still plays good defense, as well, as he is tops on the team in steals. At 34 years old – he is bringing the veteran leadership for this team, Paul has everything you could want from an offensive centerpiece, including, the veteran smarts to not force bad shots. Paul can fade off into the corner, not touching the ball, then suddenly has 4 quick possessions in a row where he is either scoring or assisting. Could you imagine what he could have done for this team in his prime?
Then there is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – who looks incredibly comfortable on the court with exceptional scoring skills. As a scorer, he’s the real deal – getting to the rim whenever he wants to, and he can drop shots from all over the court, he attacks with ease off the dribble going to the bucket, his 19.9 ppg is tops on the team. I actually think he is one of the better scoring jump shooters I’ve seen in awhile, and is showing more at a young age than many players. I also feel his quickness off the ball is very good, as he gets separation off the dribble and can drive to the rack. He isn’t an All-Star yet – but he is as close as it gets. His potential is sky high, as well at the fact that he is very athletic, and of course, he is just 21 years old.
If Paul can lead this Thunder team and sneak into the playoffs this year, as a potential 6th or 7th seed, they match up well vs a currently 2nd seeded Denver team, who they have played tough this year so far. Steven Adams is good for a double-double every night with points and rebounds. OKC is a good team, that could be a tough out if they make it to the NBA playoffs.