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Week in Review: The Westbrook Era

Welcome back to the third season of the Week in Review. This year, I’ve decided to mix it up a bit and allow myself a little flexibility to delve into all things Thunder, rather than simply picking the best and the worst players, performances, and plays of the previous week.  But don’t worry, there will still be GIFs.


1.  Russell Westbrook.  Three games, two triple doubles, and eye-popping averages of 38.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 11.7 assists. Westbrook has emphatically answered the question of how the Thunder would look sans-Kevin Durant. In leading the Thunder to a 3-0 start, Westbrook has established himself as the most powerful offensive force in the NBA.

2.  The Westbrook-Adams Connection.  Westbrook currently leads the league with 11.7 assists per game. More of those assists (3.3 per game) go to Steven Adams than any other player. It’s not just a one-way street, however, as Adams tosses 56.5% of his passes to Westbrook. With Adams now locked-up through 2021, the developing chemistry between Westbrook and Adams will have a monumental impact on the Thunder’s success.

3.  The Thunder Offense.  Despite losing one of the league’s most fearsome scorers, the Thunder’s offense has barely missed a beat, averaging 109.7 points per game. That number ranks third in the NBA and directly ahead of the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder have accomplished the feat by playing at the fastest pace in the league (almost 107 possessions per 48 minutes), which counteracted the Thunder’s below average offensive rating.


1.  Kyle Singler.  Sure, we’re just three games into the season, but Kyle Singler apparently left his three-point shot in the preseason. In his 10 attempts, Singler has connected just once, which works out to a 10% three-point shooting percentage for you math junkies. Maybe I’m being too hard on Singler, though, as he ranks second on the team in net rating. Not to mention, Singler may have the dunk of the year so far.

2. The Starters.  Whereas in past years, the Thunder’s starting five was among the best in basketball, this year, the starting five has been, uh, not so good. With the necessary “small sample size” caveat, the starting unit, composed of Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Andre Roberson, Domantas Sabonis, and Adams, has a net rating of negative 46.4. I’m not precisely sure why this unit has been so bad, but let’s just say it was refreshing to hear Billy Donovan admit that the starting five may be subject to change.

3. Adams and Victor Oladipo’s Rookie Extensions.  This is by no means an indictment of either Adams or Oladipo. I think Adams is totally deserving of every penny of his four year, $100 million extension, and I further think Oladipo’s four year, $84 million extension is a steal, but the timing is a bit curious. After expressing some willingness to go “all-in” to chase a championship, these extensions, while massive in amount, amounted to a conservative move. Likely out of fear of what the new collective bargaining agreement will bring, as well as the bigger concern that no marquee free agent will sign with Oklahoma City, the Thunder preferred to lock-up what they have now at a small discount rather than reserve some cap space to chase a free-agent piece next summer (granted, Oladipo’s cap hit for 2017 may come in at a lower number than his cap hold). Maybe this is the right move, but it’s a little disheartening that the team is essentially admitting that the only significant moves available are via draft and trade and not free agency.


1. 3-1.  Should the Warriors beat the Trail Blazers tonight, the Warriors will take a 3-1 record into their match-up with the Thunder. Coincidentally, the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.