Agreeing on a trade to acquire Carmelo Anthony on Saturday took the Thunder roster from formidable to elite. Joining the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, Russell Westbrook, and fellow offseason acquisition, Paul George, gives Anthony the winning culture he craved in New York the last four seasons. Despite the upgrade, the Thunder are still far from the Western Conference’s best team, Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes.
Several rival executives explained to Kerber that the defending champion Warriors are still the best team in the West. While the Thunder can give Golden State a challenge, and possibly fend up the Spurs and Rockets for second place, one scout said the underwhelming package the Knicks received for Anthony is also alarming.
“Are the Thunder a better team than they were yesterday? Yes. Are the Knicks a worse team than they were yesterday? Yes. The fact they got a second-round pick says they really wanted Carmelo gone. And they needed another center? Unless they’re going to buy [Joakim] Noah out. Kanter is a horrible defender,” the scout said to Kerber.
The Warriors have been to the last three NBA Finals, winning two of them. Factoring in a roster that has two-time MVP Stephen Curry, one-time MVP Kevin Durant, and stalwarts Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the Thunder will have a lot of work to do before claiming dominance over the West.
Below you can read additional news around the Northwest Division:
- With the addition of Anthony, the Timberwolves may be one of the team’s most impacted by the deal, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune writes. Minnesota revamped its roster, acquiring Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and others to join Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins; but a revamped Thunder team may have surpassed the Wolves as a Western Conference favorite.
- In a Q&A with the Star Tribune, 2017 first-round pick Justin Patton talks about his foot injury, his time at Creighton, and expectations for 2017/18.
- ESPN’s Zach Lowe rates the Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkić as one of the most intriguing players heading into next season. NBA.com’s Casey Holdahl provides further analysis on the 23-year-old.
- NBA.com’s Christopher Dempsey writes that the 2017/18 season will have a lot of expectations for the Nuggets.