When Russell Westbrook teamed up with Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, nobody thought the ball-hungry trio would come out of the shoot looking like potential Western Conference champions. Even if their egos allowed it, everyone knew it would take time for the highest paid sports team in the world to learn how to share the ball and operate most effectively with each other on the court.
The potential for success was there, but that was about it. The first 20 games of the season was expectedly rocky and included some suspect shooting nights, as each player struggled to find a consistency, comfortability and role in the offense.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are the highest-paid sports team in the world https://t.co/vRiPHYb2CS
Melo told reporters in November that OKCs chemistry was growing and the future was bright, not a disaster as some have predicted.
The game is only going to get simpler and simpler, Melo told usatoday.com. I don’t want to say (itll be) easy easy is not the word. But the simplicity of the game will be (there) a couple of months from now. …We’ll look back, and be like, ‘Man, that was hard.’ Like, what we’re doing now is hard.
OKC started the season 8-12, before this three-game winning streak. We are seeing signs that Melo was right and Billy Donovans criticized, analyzed and intriguing science experiment may work after all. I’m not the only one that thinks so. Enes Kanter of the Knicks thinks when it’s all said and done OKC will be the class of the West.
According to Donovan, OKC’s improved cohesiveness is attributed to the“selflessness” and dedication of Melo and George. Both have sacrificed the fluency of their games in order to make OKC the best team it can be come playoff time. In the process, Steven Adams has emerged as the No. 2 option to Westbrook. The center is averaging 22 points per game on nearly 80 percent shooting during OKC’s three-game run.
After differing to Melo and George early in the season, Westbrook has started taking control of the situation. The 2016-17 MVP leads the Thunder in scoring, rebounding and assists.
Remember when folks said Melo was too selfish to win and play team ball?
“I think people have it really backwards,” Donovan said when asked why Adams has taken on such bigger offensive focus. “That’s the greatness, to me, of Carmelo Anthony. The reason why Steven Adams is doing what he’s doing is because of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.”
People tend to feed into the negative narratives that emanate from the Twittersphere, particularly concerning Anthony, but OKC remains a darkhorse to shock some teams in the NBA playoffs, especially if the triumvirate of Westbrook, George and Anthony continue to gel with 60 games still left to play.
Oklahoma City #Thunder’s Carmelo Anthony passing on shots to get offense moving https://t.co/RwHKSWVbYZ
Getting lost in the game completely and letting the instincts take over (is the goal), George said. I’ve been thinking about where I should be, where I should attack, instead of just playing. You’ve got a lineup with Russ and Melo out there, and all you’ve got to do is just play.
(The coaching staff has) been great, honestly. I think with ourselves being out there, we’re so used to like in Indiana, the whole playbook, I knew where guys were going to be, I knew where my shots were going to come from, I knew where double teams were coming from. I just knew everywhere and everybody on the floor. Now, it’s different being in a new system, having to figure out where guys are coming from, where double teams are coming, where’s the help rotating at, how are the bigs going to guard me now that they can’t really help off of anybody? I’m so used to catching the ball and coming off screens, and it’s two (defenders) to the ball. It hasn’t been the case here.”
If the future Hall of Famers on OKC are willing to continue suppressing their desires while lifting the effectiveness of Adams and strengthening the overall competitiveness of the squad, then a special story is brewing in OKC. One that the NBA news feeders need to keep a close eye on.