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What, to you, has kept the Oklahoma City Thunder’s big three from getting on the same page this season?
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Steve Aschburner: Overlap of roles and skills. Really, it would have been more surprising to me if they had clicked early and naturally, given how ball dominant Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony had been in their careers prior to joining forces. This is the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, where Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen slipped easily into defined roles by virtues of somewhat different skill sets and inclinations. It was inevitable, I thought, that “the OK3” would have to sort out redundancies, turn-taking and concerns about stepping on each other’s toes. Anthony needs to spend more time in the post, in my opinion. I thought George was lingering too often on the perimeter. It’s a lot to sort out and finding some rhythm by the season’s midpoint would be a success, in my view.
Shaun Powell: It’s simple: The answer is “time.” This is uniting three scorers who are accustomed to getting shots and being the focal point late in games and OKC simply needs time so Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George can find a shared comfort zone. No need to sound any alarms now; check back if things are still slippery come January.
John Schuhmann: The Thunder offense has very little flow. No team has isolated more often and the isolations haven’t resulted in attacks of the basket often enough. They rank 27th in drives and first in pull-up, 2-point jump shots (the worst shots on the floor) per game. The lack of ball movement (the Thunder rank 29th in passes per possession) has been compounded by a lack of player movement (they rank 26th in distance traveled per minute of possession), so instead of off-ball screens and cuts, there’s a lot of standing around, which makes them easier to defend than they should be, given the talent of their four best players. If they moved and passed more, their scorers would have more opportunities to work against a rotating defense, which would result in better shots. Instead, the result is a team that ranks 22nd offensively, with their numbers with all three All-Stars on the floor (103.7 points scored per 100 possessions) still below the league average (104.4). With that kind of talent, that all-three-on-the-floor number should be much higher, but these guys simply haven’t brought out the best in each other.
Sekou Smith: I don’t know that 19 games is enough time to figure out how to get around a new city (for Carmelo Anthony and Paul George), let alone figure out your chemistry if you’re “the OK3”. We need to take a step back and let this thing marinate a little bit more before making any lasting declarations about this crew. They don’t look disjointed to me at all. I think they fit as a group. They just need more time to get their timing down and to figure out who has to sacrifice what for the greater good. It’ll come.