The regular season is upon us, and the hype surrounding the Oklahoma City Thunder can barely be contained. Ahead of opening night in just a few days, the Thunder Guys are back with our annual bold predictions for the upcoming season.
1. Russell Westbrook will win back-to-back MVPs.
A lot of people don’t think Westbrook will have an MVP-type season with Melo and PG13 being added to the roster. However, I think Russ will be able to use those guys as assets to help boost another MVP campaign.
2. Andre Roberson will shoot 60% from the free throw line.
It’s a little sad that 60% is a bold prediction for free throws, but when you consider that he shot 42% last year, it seems pretty bold.
3. Paul George will be named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Paul George has been named to this list before, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it again this year. He will have tons of help around him, which will further allow his defensive skills to be present.
4. Steven Adams will average 15 points per game.
Steven Adams has improved every season so far in his career. The young center averaged 11.3 points per game last season. If he can stay healthy, I don’t see it being impossible for him to average 15 points per game.
5. The Thunder will beat the Warriors twice during the regular season.
The Thunder and the Warriors face off four times this season, and I think the Thunder will split the regular season and win two games. It’s likely that each team will win the games they play at home and lose on the road.
1. Oklahoma City will win its first NBA Finals.
Screw it. These predictions are supposed to be bold right? Paul Pierce said it already, so I’m really just echoing his sentiments: “The Oklahoma City Thunder will raise the Larry O’Brien this year.” This squad is built not just to compete across the league, but specifically to take out the Warriors, and that is exactly what they will have to do to bring home the big one.
2. The starters will average more points than any other starting five in the league.
Last season, the Thunder’s starters averaged 70.5 points per game (13th in the NBA), and the bench averaged 36.1 points per game (14th in the NBA). Russell Westbrook carried the majority of that load by leading the NBA with 31.6 points per game, but since then, Oklahoma City has added Paul George, who has averaged 20+ points for the last two seasons, and Carmelo Anthony, who has never averaged fewer than 20.8 points per game in a season. Don’t be surprised when this starting lineup averages at least 80 (maybe even 90) points per game.
3. The Thunder will rank in the top 10 in the NBA in 3-point shooting.
After ranking dead last in the league in 3-point shooting last season, Oklahoma City has added considerable shooting talent in PG13, Melo, and Patrick Patterson. Alex Abrines is back from a knee injury, and he will likely see a rise in minutes from last season. Josh Huestis and Terrance Ferguson look like they will even see some minutes, and they are both capable shooters.
4. Oklahoma City will lead the league in defensive rating.
Last year, Oklahoma City was 10th in the NBA in defensive rating, which is impressive considering how much the Thunder struggled at times. The Thunder backcourt could be the best wing defense in the league, and Steven Adams has turned into a consistent stopper down low. Then, there are Jerami Grant, Raymond Felton, and Patrick Patterson coming off the bench. If this team sells out on the defensive end of the floor, they could be extremely dangerous.
5. The Thunder will win 60 games in the regular season, including 35 of 41 at home.
Oklahoma City has reached 60 regular season wins just one time, which was in 2012-13, the season following the Thunder’s lone trip to the Finals. The Thunder’s starting lineup is star-studded, and the bench is young, but full of experience, so this team has the potential to do some incredible things. Despite last year being a down season by Oklahoma City standards, the Thunder still won 28 of 41 games at home. If this team is able to figure out its chemistry early, opponents should watch out because things could get ugly quickly.
Article written by Craig Hofeld and Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.