If the NBA playoffs started today, the Oklahoma City Thunder would not be a part of them. Having lost three straight, they’re now 4-6, which currently ranks as the fourth-worst record in the Western Conference.
But the Thunder’s Big Three of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook. Each member preached some variation of patience following the team’s loss to the Sacramento Kings.
“This is all new to everybody, new situations for everybody,” said Carmelo Anthony, who along with Paul George joined the team this summer. “Even though we losing games, I think it’s more of lessons being learned than actually losing the game. So right now, we’re learning a lesson in these last couple games.”
And here’s George, also via Bontemps:
“We have a whole year to figure it out,” Paul George said. “We can’t really try to rush this. It’s something that’s step-by-step, day-by-day [and], at this point, game-by-game. We’ve got to slowly get on the same page.”
And, finally, here’s a video of Westbrook talking about how the loss to the Kings will make the team better:
Absolutely none of this is off-base. The Thunder are 10 games into the season. Anthony, George and Westbrook are still trying to figure out how to play with one another. They’re going to be fine.
Certain signs support this. The Thunder still rank second in points allowed per 100 possessions. They also have the net rating of a 50-something-win team. That result is buoyed by huge wins over the Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks, but it still matters.
Even looking at some of their losses reveals silver linings. They loss two incredibly close games to the Minnesota Timberwolves; Melo’s (underserved) ejection essentially cost them their matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers; and they aren’t going to drop tilts against squads like the Kings, who are arguably the worst team in basketball, on a regular basis.
Jump ahead 20 games, and the odds are we’ll be looking at a different Thunder team—a more cohesive unit with a much better record. If they’re 30 contests into the season and not generating the intended results, or anything close to them, then you’re free to hit the panic button.