Oklahoma City Thunder: Suddenly Scarier And Even More Dangerous


After their recent moves at the NBA trade deadline, the Oklahoma City Thunder are suddenly scarier and even more dangerous

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In one of the wilder statements ever made during an NBA telecast, Oklahoma City Thunder’s play-by-man on Fox Sports called Russell Westbrook “a little Larry Bird-ish” the other night.

Let’s not lose our heads here, but there is something different about the Thunder post-trade deadline. Their offense has moving parts, as opposed to the four-men-stand-flat-while-one-dribbles play they typically run. It’s suddenly scary and in a good way.

Of course, watching the Thunder is always engaging because its offensive catalyst, Westbrook, bubbles like a newly opened Coke. When he’s coupled with the league’s MVP, Kevin Durant, it’s hard to imagine this club ever falling short of the playoffs — even when you spot the other teams a dozen or so games.

There’s every possibility that the Thunder won’t be able to keep their dynamic duo together over the long term, however, and this may be why we’re seeing a new strategy from Oklahoma City’s front office. Their decisions may be governed by the need to fill voids left by the team’s best players when they’re not available, or perhaps, when they’re no longer in Thunder blue at all.

Among the many indifferent moves made at the overly-hyped NBA trade deadline, OKC cleverly retooled. Once the clouds parted, they’d added some bulk to the interior with Enes Kanter and some offensive punch with DJ Augustin. It was quietly clever.

But the move I liked most was for hard-nosed wingman, Kyle Singler, who shoots a good deep ball, pulls down boards and can toss a tidy pass. Singler’s crafty and tough, and seems to fill a great need in the Thunder’s attack, though not one single need you can put your finger on. OKC’s just always been a little less cohesive than they should be in my mind, lacking the types of players that do simple and necessary things.

OKC general manager Sam Presti apparently contemplated this over the All-Star break because the players he’s brought in not only make the roster look more formidable, they’re just greater talents than the ones previously filling those spots.

They’re also players with versatility and who, importantly, throw the extra pass to get the offense moving. The ball is skipping around the half-court and the Thunder look particularly dangerous, and from more spots on the floor than simply the top-of-the-key. They’re opening up the court and making it harder for defenses, who now actually have to cover several perimeter threats. This, in turn, is creating space for the likes of Kanter.

And while Kanter and Singler are setting screens, Augustin is penetrating and dishing. He’s also hitting from downtown. So it’s a more rounded attack and one that should only improve as the new guys get more comfortable.

OKC is the eighth seed in the west right now, so presumably every team up to the Golden State Warriors is now experiencing palpitations.

Catch you’re breath everybody, you’ll need it come the playoff time.

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