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While the NBA zigs, the Thunder zag

russell westbrook, steven adams
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The NBA is quickly changing in today’s world. The league is moving towards an approach that is more like how the Golden State Warriors play.

It’s hard to blame anyone that wants to play like the Warriors – the team has set the record for wins in a season and has gone to the NBA Finals the past two years. The way the Warriors play is focused on using their star players to nail three-pointers. It seems that every NBA team is going in that direction. The power forward and center spots have almost gone extinct because teams are wanting to play smaller and faster. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder are not going to go that way though. In fact, they are almost going the exact opposite direction.

This past offseason was a big one for OKC in changing the way they play. The team lost two of their best three-point shooters to free agency and a trade. Those two players were the life of Thunder small ball; they had the ability to play at the four or five spot, and play it with speed and shooting prowess.

Now the future of the Thunder is in the hands of four players: Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, and Domantas Sabonis. The best three-point shooter of that bunch is Oladipo and his best three-point shooting season had him shooting 34.8 percent from downtown.

How OKC will run their offense

In the past the Thunder have used two players to get their offense going. That will all change this year. Everyone knows what to expect from Russell Westbrook. He will play hard and fast, getting into the paint like an unstoppable force – but what about Adams and Sabonis? Expect these two players to not only be used, but to be keys, in the Thunder’s offense. What Adams and Sabonis can bring to the team is huge because both of them have great passing ability.

The Thunder offense will work heavily through their ability to get it down low then pass it back out. Here is the interesting part though: passing it back out will not result in taking a three. Instead it will result in either Westbrook or Oladipo charging to the rim with a full head of stream. The only way to stop them will be to bring two players in to close the paint, then opening back up Adams or Sabonis. Those two will have to be scoring in the paint to make it work.

To help those two players learn more about inside scoring is the Thunder’s sixth man, Enes Kanter. Kanter has already improved Adams’ post game and the more time they get together no doubt the better they will get. Getting rebounds and scoring in the paint, that will be Thunder ball this season.

The Thunder appear to be looking to play more of “Spurs ball” than they do “Warriors ball.” The fact that OKC beat the Spurs using their own game last postseason is a great sign of that.

Teams all around the NBA will be looking to hit the three, but OKC’s best three-point shooter, Anthony Morrow, will barely see the court. They will be a team unlike any other, and a team completely different than they were last season.

It is a year of change in Loud City, do not miss out on watching it.

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