We are just about halfway through the NBA season, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are 25-19 after 44 games. After trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the expectation was that the Thunder would head towards a rebuild.
In the Russell Westbrook trade, Oklahoma City received veteran point guard Chris Paul. Based on his injury history with the Houston Rockets, Paul wasn’t expected to make much of an impact. While he is not the point guard he once was, Paul is leading this young team to a surprising season so far. To date, Paul is averaging 17 points, 6.4 assists, and 5.0 rebounds per game.
Arguably, the most surprising player on this team is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He is currently averaging a team-high 19.8 points per game in just his second NBA season. He is shooting 47% percent from the field and 34% from three-point land. In a recent game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Gilgeous-Alexander had 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists. This season, Gilgeous-Alexander is playing off the ball a lot more than he did with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Also playing well for the Thunder are Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder. Gallinari is averaging 19.2 and Schroder is averaging 18.3 points per game, and Schroder is doing his damage off the bench. Gallinari has always been a solid role player, but he needs to stay healthy.
Of course, there is Steven Adams. He is averaging 11.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game and is shooting 60% percent from the field. Adams is a terrific pick-and-roll player that doesn’t mind doing the dirty work to help win games.
Head coach Billy Donavan is doing a fantastic job with this team. The Thunder can score the basketball and are exceeding expectations on defense. At this current pace, Oklahoma City will be competing for a playoff position in the Western Conference.