The surprising Saturday afternoon trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder provided a big shake up to the upcoming NBA season, with just about 3 weeks until opening night. The three time Olympic gold medalists arrival will make the western conference even more brutal to navigate. For what it’s worth the OKC Thunder should be an even more popular 2K choice than last year, with all the new faces on the roster. Ironically enough, Melo will open the 2017 season against his former team, as the New York Knicks are set to visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 19th. Today we will take a look at how both teams stand after this trade, which could have possible finals implications.
Last week I mentioned the Thunder as honorable mention for the biggest winners of the 2017 off-season. After Saturday’s events they are the clear cut winners. The Thunder front office should be facing jail time for committing TWO highway robberies this off-season. In July, the Thunder were able to trade Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo for Paul George. An obvious upgrade, which also allowed them to move Oladipo’s contract. However this was not good enough for Sam Presti and company, so they decided to strike again. On Saturday afternoon they were able to trade: Enes Kanter (and his gross contract), Doug McDermott, and a draft pick to New York for Carmelo Anthony. In addition to PG13 and Melo, new acquisitions Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson will give OKC depth and scoring off the bench, if they can stay healthy. Realistically it will take time for the new Thunder squad to mesh. Outside of a short time with Allen Iverson in Denver, Melo has never had to play with a ball dominant guard like Russell Westbrook. OKC Thunder fans should expect some growing pains regarding shot attempts and ball movement. Billy Donovan will also need to figure out who takes the last shot in crunch time. Paul George’s game tying three point attempt against the Cavs in the playoffs, automatically removes him from consideration. Picking between Melo or The Brodie to take the last shot is a problem most coaches would relish, but it is a problem to be solved nonetheless. From a coaching standpoint, fans should keep an eye on Bill Donovan this season. It will be interesting to watch how he handles having so many established stars on the roster, in only his third NBA coaching season. Andre Roberson will have to start showing signs of life offensively because right he’s more useless than a blind tour guide. Hopefully Alex Abrines and Jerami Grant will build on the promise they showed last season, and provide solid bench minutes. On paper, the new look Thunder pose a big threat to the Golden State Warrior’s position atop the western conference. However; only time will tell how OKC’s revamped roster works together.
New York Knicks:
The Knicks appear to be in all-out rebuild mode, after trading away their best player. Regardless of Melo’s rollercoaster ride in NYC, the Knicks were not fairly compensated in this trade. They gave up the third best scorer of this generation (Kobe, KD,then Melo) who was at the twilight of his prime, for two role players and second round pick. From a financial standpoint, the Knicks must figure out how to deal with Joakim Noah’s and Enes Kanter’s large contracts. The silver lining to this cloud is that the Knickerbockers still have Kristaps Porzingis, as well as promising young foreigners: Willy Hernangomez and Frank Ntilikina. Porzingis should receive his first ever All-Star nod, especially with the exodus of talent from the eastern conference. The Knicks will obviously look to build around the Latvian stretch four for the foreseeable future. Knicks fans should keep an eye on how Frank Ntilikina transitions from the French league to NBA guard play. It could get very ugly at times, but Frank Ntilikina’s size and athleticism at the point are intriguing. Outside of a promising young core, the Knicks unfortunately have nothing else going for them, and appear destined for the lottery yet again.There will be some intriguing players for the Knicks to consider at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft. I would advise them to key in on either Trevon Duval or Michael Porter Jr. With Duval they could follow the growing NBA trend of a two point guard backcourt, and place more scoring responsibility on his shoulders. MPJ would provide Knicks fans with a tall bucket-minded small forward. I personally believe his game resembles Paul George more than popular comparison Kevin Durant, as his advanced handle and shot creating ability are lacking. That being said Michael Porter Jr would still be a welcomed addition to the Knicks in 2018. Alternatively the Knicks could continue with their international trend and select Luka Doncic in next year’s draft, although I believe his ceiling is nowhere close to the two aforementioned players. New York City is known to be a very tough and gritty place. New Yorkers will need to heavily rely on that toughness to survive this upcoming NBA season.