By watching Russell Westbrook in the last two or three years, it’s no secret that he can move the ball around. The Thunder finished 10th in the NBA in assists last season with 23 per game. This is mainly due to the ball movement of Westbrook, who averaged 10.4 assists per game on his own.
Cameron Payne contributed two assists per game last season in his few minutes he played. You can expect the young point guard to contribute more this season with his increased minutes. Ball movement is the key to success in the NBA. When you take a look at the San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors, you see excellent ball movement. The Thunder showed spurts of excellence with ball movement last season, but failed to be consistent. With a far more balanced team this season, I expect the ball movement to be greatly increased from years past.
The Thunder also finished 10th in the league in free throw percentage last season. As a team, the Thunder shot 78% from the line. Former Thunder player Kevin Durant shot 90% to lead the team. With his absence, the Thunder should not struggle to maintain a good percentage as Russell Westbrook, Enes Kanter, and Cameron Payne all shot at least 80%.
Many games are decided from the free throw line. With the Thunder’s success from the free throw line last season and the ability to record 23 assist per game, you’ve got to have a good feeling about this upcoming season. It is safe to assume the team will be looking to increase both of those stats this year. When looking at the new additions to the team, as well as all-around player improvement, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Thunder finish in the top 10 in both categories again this season.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter.