The bumpy start continues in Oklahoma City as coach Billy Donovan tries to mesh Paul George and Carmelo Anthony into a cohesive unit with Russell Westbrook, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Although they are all exceptional scorers, there are concerns that they don’t fit well together, and so far Westbrook [.400] and Anthony [.422] are posting their worst field goal percentages since they were rookies. Donovan continues to experiment with different combinations off the bench as the Thunder have stumbled to a 9-12 start.
“He has a style that he knows works, and we’re all in with Billy on it,” George said. “But again, he’s good with wanting what’s best for us and wanting what’s gonna make us comfortable out there.”
There’s more out of Oklahoma City:
- Horne offers grades for all the Thunder players through the first quarter of the season in a separate story, and the reigning MVP only gets a B-minus. Westbrook has adjusted his game to accommodate George and Anthony and is still searching for the right balance between taking over games and setting up his teammates, Horne says. Anthony also gets a B-minus, while George receives an A.
- A change in the starting lineup might be the answer to OKC’s early-season slump, suggests Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. He proposes replacing defensive specialist Andre Roberson with a better shooter such as Alex Abrines or Terrance Ferguson to create more spacing for the first unit. Donovan increased Ferguson’s minutes this week and gave Dakari Johnson a shot in Wednesday’s loss to Orlando, but he doesn’t seem ready to change the pairing of Westbrook, George, Anthony, Roberson and Steven Adams that has started every game this season. “I think that what happens in these situations is sometimes people look for the change for the sake of change because it looks like you’re doing something,” Donovan said. “I’ve always been a big believer of pinpointing what the issues and the challenges are that we’ve got to overcome.”
- Magic coach Frank Vogel, who coached George in Indiana, described his former star as “selfless” in trying to make the union with Westbrook and Anthony successful, relays John Denton of NBA.com. He said the Thunder will benefit from George’s defensive abilities, which he described as “Allen Iverson’s instincts in Scottie Pippen’s body.’’