Last season ended for Paul George with him at the podium after a playoff game stating that he needs to have the ball at the end of the game to take the shot for the win. Since then he has decided to take his game from Indiana to Oklahoma City to play alongside last year’s MVP Russell Westbrook to form a dynamic one-two punch similar to when Kevin Durant was with the Thunder.
This past weekend a trade was made to send Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks to OKC. All three guys, Anthony, Westbrook and George are known for being scorers while dominating the ball throughout the 24-second shot clock. So it brings up the question, how are these guys supposed to fit together while only playing with one basketball?
Roles will definitely have to be defined. A new offense may have to be implemented. The Thunder will need to have some success early to keep these guys from going rogue and doing their own thing. With this talent, OKC is now major player in the West.
How will this trio fit together on the court in terms of Russell Westbrook? Maybe Russ has seen how hard it is to carry a team on your back. Yes, he won the MVP award, but I’m sure it took a lot out of him by the end of the season. Maybe now he is willing to be a distributor as opposed to almost fighting for the ball when KD was there.
I’m sure knowing the skills of Melo and PG13 he should be more confident knowing that points can still be put on the board if he doesn’t have the ball and with these two triple doubles should be a lot easier to come by. He has to understand that he can still be a scoring point guard as long as he doesn’t forget that he’s still a point guard.
Paul George should be the work horse of the three. He’s a match up problem for most teams and he’s probably going to have to be the team’s wing defender. His offensive numbers may take a dip (from averaging 23 points a game to about 18) but I’m sure it won’t be a problem as long as the Thunder is winning.
Carmelo Anthony should be the team closer. He has shown the best resume for taking over at the end of games. He will be looked at to give an effort on defense but in no one’s mind is Melo going to be a lock down defender. He will have multiple roles for OKC, look for him to play the wing and also see a lot of action at the stretch four. Melo has always said that he could fit in anywhere, this is the time to prove it.
The team held media day on Monday where the guys said all of the right things. Melo expressed his respect for the other two, talked about how he and Russ have grown closer but laughed at the notion of coming off the bench. Paul George basically stated that the three should fit together because they all want to win. He also said that he doesn’t see a problem getting shots and the team will roll with whoever has the flow. Westbrook spoke about how the guys being together on the Olympic team will help them define their roles and play together.
When bringing in new teammates it always takes time to get comfortable. With Oklahoma City being out West every night will be a battle and there will be little time during the games to just figure it out. If they can find a rhythm, they could be a top five team in the Western Conference, pushing and competing against the likes of Houston, San Antonio and Golden State. If they cannot adjust to each other it could make for a very long and disastrous season. I am hoping that they can come together and create beautiful basketball because we all will benefit in the end.