Everyone has been wondering when the league MVP would make his 2017-2018 NBA debut to play with his new teammates. Well, the wait was over as Russell Westbrook was finally active and able to play with his new teammates Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. The anticipation of Russell Westbrook dribbling down the field and having Melo & PG-13 finally was in front of the New Orleans Pelicans. Billy Donovan stated that Westbrook would play in the 1st quarter only and he stayed true to his word. Russell Westbrook only played 10 minutes on the night but ended his night with 9 points, 4 assists, and 1 rebound. Westbrook was able to get Melo and PG involved in the offense and help space the court out on the offensive end. The Thunder looked really good defensively against the Pelicans with the lineup of Westbrook, George, Anthony, Roberson, and Adams. We were able to see a glimpse of how the starting five will look and we will continue to see that as the preseason moves forward now.
The Thunder were depending on Paul George and Carmelo Anthony after the 1st quarter. Paul George has shown that he can be an explosive player and an efficient player as well. George finished the game with 25 points and shot 50% from the field on the evening. George was able to show his full offensive display tonight from drives, fadeaway jumpers, and getting his teammates involved. Carmelo was able to play freely without the ball and pick his shots wisely because the weight isn’t all on his shoulders anymore. The OKC Big 3 finished with 43 points and were able to show that they can play together and that they can make each other better in this small size sample that we saw tonight.
The Pelicans were able to hang in the game because of their dynamic duo of Cousins and Davis both combined for 27 points on the night. The Pelicans can be a scary team with the addition of Rondo because he’s pass first and wants to get the best out of everyone on the team. The Pelicans had no answer for PG and Melo in the game and it was clear that OKC was multiple steps ahead of them as a talented team. If the Pelicans can gain some more experience with each other they could make noise in the western conference this season. The Pelicans have some young pieces like Perry Jones III, Ian Clark, and Cliff Alexander that looked really good for them. If this team can build chemistry and get on the same page this could be a sleeper team in the postseason.
Tonight Terrance Ferguson showed some good signs of explosiveness tonight as he added 9 points off the bench. That backup point guard situation is definitely something to watch Semaj was playing very aggressive and he was running the second unit the way Donovan like to see it. The backup point guard is up in the air but we should have a lot more light on the second unit in about a week in a half.
The Thunder will play Melbourne United on Sunday afternoon. We will get to see more minutes with Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony on the court together.
Photo Credit for Featured Image: Sue Ogrocki, AP