NBA 2019-20: 3 Reasons why OKC Thunder can make the playoffs next season
The Oklahoma City Thunder have had a busy offseason this summer, but not in a way you'd expect. The Thunder have parted ways with their two best players and acquired numerous draft picks. They put themselves in an interesting position and seem like they are in rebuild mode. If so, it could be a rough season for the Thunder.
The Thunder started their offseason with a few small moves. They re-signed forward/center Nerlens Noel to a one-year, $2 million deal and brought in other players. The Thunder also brought in Darius Bazley through a draft-night trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. Then, they signed Luguentz Dort to a two-way deal and signed Mike Muscala to a two-year, $4.3 million deal. They also agreed to a deal with Alec Burks but allowed him to rethink his decision. He moved on from the Thunder and signed with the Golden State Warriors.
Oklahoma City made those moves before making their most significant moves of the summer. After these moves, the Thunder were a part of one of the biggest and most unexpected moves of the offseason. They traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.
After meeting with teams and pondering his decision, unrestricted free agent Kawhi Leonard made his decision. Leonard decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. The move came as a surprise, but there was more to the situation. Leonard brought Paul George with him.
The Thunder and Clippers agreed to a deal that sent George to LA and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and five first-round draft picks to the Thunder. George was the Thunder's first option on offense. He had an MVP caliber season after averaging a career-high 28 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.2 steals. When they traded George, it left Russell Westbrook as the Thunder's go-to player. Then, they traded him.
The season could be a difficult one for the Thunder. Or, they will exceed their expectations and prove the rest of the league wrong. Here are three reasons why the OKC Thunder can make the playoffs this season.
#3 They have Chris Paul
After trading Paul George, Russell Westbrook was not too far behind. The Thunder traded Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul and draft picks. The trade happened after various reports of tension between Paul and his teammate James Harden.
The Paul/Westbrook trade is potentially a good move for both sides. The Rockets gain a player (and a former teammate of The Beard) to pair alongside Harden and the Thunder gain a skilled veteran. Harden and Westbrook were solid during their time together in Oklahoma City and have a chance to be one of the best duos of the Western Conference (and the league). On the flipside, Paul has a chance to lead a young team.
A team like the Thunder could benefit from Paul. While his stats have gone down, he is still a high IQ point guard. If he can score, get his teammates involved, and stay healthy, he will be a valuable player for the Thunder.