The Work Ethic of Victor Oladipo

The Oklahoma City Thunder need a number two scoring option to reduce the scoring burden on Russell Westbrook. Oladipo averaged a regressed 15.9 PPG last season but the question remains, Will Oladipo step up to the plate? Illustrated in the image above, Oladipo has been putting in work this offseason to improve his game. Could Oladipo be primed for a breakout season? Possibly. Victor Oladipo was only a 3 star recruit out of high school when he committed to indiana. The fact that Oladipo became one of the nations top players and eventually a top 3 draft pick speaks volumes of his work ethic. Although Oladipo puts in the work, it doesn’t always translate on the stat sheet as we saw last year. Victor had one of his lowest scoring seasons of his young career but also shot his highest percentage (44%) across the board; Although his stats have regressed his play has not. Here are some exciting things about victor Oladipo,

1.) Incredible athleticism and agility

2.) Scoring ability from everywhere 

3.) He has not yet hit his prime

4.) Above average defender

5.) Has the athletic potential to be a 20+ PPG type of player

Expect victor Oladipo to have a career year. early prediction,

18.9 PPG 3.9 AST 3.7 REB on 45%, 38% from deep

Should Westbrook Accept the Super Max Deal?

We all know that Russell Westbrook is both number one in the league and in our hearts but the question remains; Should Russell Westbrook take the super max deal? According to NBC sports, Westbrook can accept a super max deal worth $220 million if he were to resign a contract that would make him more than likely a Thunder lifer. There is no question that Westbrook deserves the super max for his production and his importance to both the city and the fans in Oklahoma City but that is not the topic of discussion in this article. Let us consider some variables:

1.) The West is Evolving

The western conference grows more competitive with each season making the quest for a championship that much more difficult for Westbrook and the Thunder. Let us consider these teams:

GSW – Likely to be in the WCF or the finals for the next 3-5 seasons unless they lose members of their overpowered arsenal.

SA – Chris Paul is likely joining the spurs who were already incredibly good to begin with. They pose a true threat for not just the Thunder but for the Warriors.

LAC – Good news, they are no longer contenders.

HOU – Incredibly talented team of shooters. OKC must have a true number 2 option and role players that can score from outside to beat Houston.

MIN – Many may laugh at this selection but look at their roster:

  • SF – Andrew Wiggins
  • SG – Zach LaVine
  • PG – Kris Dunn / Ricky Rubio
  • PF/C – Karl Towns
  • Lottery Selection this season

This team will be relevant and a major thorn in the western conference in the coming seasons.

UTAH – Utah has made strides but losing Hayward will be a huge blow to their title hopes.

POR – Lillard and McCollum are a dangerous duo, Portland also possesses 3 1st round selections in this years draft. They are already a playoff team and should not be overlooked.

LAL – “The Lakers really?!” , Consider this,

  • Deangelo Russell ( 2 years in )
  • Brandon Ingram ( 1 year in )
  • #2 selection in the draft

We will see another big 3 form in LA in the next few years as these guys develop

PHX – TJ Warren, DEVIN BOOKER, Eric Bledsoe, and a lottery selection. The only reason the suns make this list is due to the fact that Booker is a certified baller. Booker has scoring titles in his future and Warren has improved significantly. If they land on they draft pick this year look out in the upcoming seasons.

The west is stacked with talent. Look out east, It’s just the Cavs and a young Celtics squad with the number one pick.

Why is all of this relevant to Westbrook’s Super Max? That’s the next topic of discussion,

2.) Salary Cap

A super max puts Westbrook at 44 million annually which is almost 1/3 of the cap and 1/4 with collective bargain options. Westbrook accepting such a deal means that OKC won’t be able to afford to bring in any free agents to help him compete in a conference that is only becoming increasingly competitive. With the West evolving, Oklahoma City must adapt or simply falter. If Westbrook would be willing to take roughly 36 million annually instead of the full max then Oklahoma City would have 8 million extra for free agent acquisitions in each season. An improved supporting cast is the only way that Oklahoma City can compete for the championship in the coming seasons.

 

Bottom line, Westbrook deserves to get paid. Taking a little less would increase the team’s chances of succeeding in the future.

 

Thunder : Make or Break Year Candidates

It is no secret that the legendary Russell Westbrook lacked consistent help from his supporting cast last season. General Manager Sam Presti brought in some new faces in hopes of keeping the Thunder competitive but so far it has not panned out. Here we will discuss the players that are on make or break seasons for the 2018 campaign ( provided they are still on the roster once the season begins ).

Victor Oladipo

Many were elated when Oklahoma City acquired Oladipo last season in the trade that sent Ibaka to Orlando. A young and crazy athletic two way guard, What’s not to love? The potential to be great is there. Victor Oladipo averaged 13.8 as a rookie in Orlando and followed it up with an impressive sophomore campaign averaging  17.9. So much for a sophomore slump am I right? However, Oladipo’s production has since fallen off as he has only average 16 and 15.9 in his last two seasons. Early in his career it seemed that he was primed to become a true offensive force but he has yet to take that next step. These numbers are not bad by any means but i think it’s safe to say that more was expected of him. Many felt that his drop off in Orlando was fueled by a poorly managed front office and a loss of passion from all of the losing. With this in mind, many felt that Oladipo would be rejuvinated and open to growth once again in a new system with more capable teammates. Since entering Oklahoma City Oladipo is shooting a career high 44.2 % from the field. This leaves hope in the eyes of Thunder fans everywhere that he may be able to elevate himself to a consistent 18-21 PPG type of player that the team needs desperately. Oladipo signed a 4 year extension for 21 million annual last offseason which is roughly 1/6 of the Thunder’s cap space. With that type of cap hit more is expected from a player who possesses all of the tools to become a tremendous two way guard. Entering his fifth season, it is crucial for Oladipo to take a leap this season for the Thunder to take the next step.

Another man who has something to prove ( if he’s still on the team at the beginning of the season ).

Enes Kanter

I personally like Enes Kanter ……… off of the court, on the court he is inconsistent. Kanter is a guy who can explode and get 25 in 18 minutes thanks to his amazing ability to rebound the basketball. Although he possesses the ability to play at this level one must consider the glaring flaws in his game as well as usage. First, It’s no secret that Kanter is not one for defensive awareness. Second, For this reason Billy Donovan does not grant him ample playing time for the money that he is being paid. Kanter may be moved before the season in order to make pushes for free agent targets but as of now we will assume that he will be on the squad come opening day.  Kanter is a good player and a solid free throw shooter for his position. He’s netting about 17 million a season, here are his numbers from last season:

Enes Kanter

PPG : 14.3 on 54.5%

REB : 6.7

AST : 0.9

FT   : 78.6%

Kanter only makes this list because he has trade value. The Thunder can use him to trade up in the draft, acquire better fitting pieces, or clear cap for free agency. Kanter is a productive bench player but must take another step up in his game to get himself security on the team moving forward.

Last but not least,

Doug McDermott 

Doug McDermott has shown improvement every year since entering the league. His scoring average starting at 3 PPG as a rookie and reaching as high as 10.2 last season before being traded to Oklahoma City. He averaged 6.6 PPG after being traded to the Thunder. As valuable role playing sharp shooter, McDermott must improve on his ability to create shots since he is normally in the game with the second unit which does not have a facilitator. McDermott will be entering a contract year next offseason and must improve on his efficiency a bit. He averaged around 19 minutes a game to get his points. In 19 minutes you would like to see more than 6 points of production from one of the few snipers that the Thunder have on roster. McDermott also has trade value and good upside in his youth as he has improved his production in every season before coming to OKC. The Thunder would be wise to be patient with Doug but the decline in his numbers upon arriving may indicate that he is not a good fit. This upcoming season will be an important determining factor.