In the news: 2 takes on how Russell Westbrook – Chris Paul switch affects their new squads

Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder in the news features two articles addressing how the shift of superstar point guards (Westbrook and Paul) affects the offense in Houston and Oklahoma City.

The NBA regular season will tip off in just under two months with the OKC Thunder getting their start on October 23 at Utah. In preparation of that date, training camp and the preseason players are working on their games and the coaching staff dissecting how the Thunder will mesh the returning players with the new additions.

One clear change this season will be a younger squad almost a year younger by team average (25.0 years). Additionally, with the loss of two featured superstars, the system will need to be revamped into more a team-oriented offense.

A point of contention during the Donovan years was the cookie cutter offense without much variation or options. This might be part and parcel of what it means to have superstars who are more than capable of creating their own opportunities. Still, it felt like the offense relied far too heavily on the defense creating turnovers which could initiate fast break scoring. And, when it didn’t everything seemed to ground to a halt as the main play was to get the ball in one of the superstars’ hands.

Whether it was the Kevin DurantRussell Westbrook era, the failed OK3 season or the Westbrook – Paul George season the team seemingly kept running the ‘star offense’.

Entering the 2019-20 campaign the situation will change because Donovan has no option but to change and tailor the offense to the new personnel. Failure to force ball and player movement could result in an early departure for Billy D.  Even with the team in it’s replenish and repositioning era the coach will still need to show the ability to develop a system for this team. Presumably, with his college background, this iteration of the OKC Thunder should allow the former NCAA coach more of an opportunity to showcase his abilities.

The offensive epiphany which all started with a Schuhmann stat tweet:

More from Thunderous Intentions

That’s not to say there won’t be hurdles to overcome. And in the news today revisits a Thunderous Intentions article which touches on the specific issues associated with the exchange of Westbrook for Chris Paul and how their styles could affect both of their new teams. The article posted on August 22nd was sparked by a stat I witnessed from John Schuhmann.

The tweet highlighted the 10 players who take the most shots in the first and last six seconds of the shot clock. Westbrook fell in the first category while his new teammate James Harden and now Thunder point guard Chris Paul fell in the latter part of the equation.

That led to me dissecting more stats focusing on how that one stat was intrinsic to the Thunder and Rockets defense. What followed was an analysis of the two clubs pace, assist (ratio and percentage), isolation, ball movement, turnovers leading to points, transition baskets, fast break scoring, and defensive differences.

"Considering these stats it’s clear the two squads’ superstars used vastly different strategies. It’s conceivable the players were following a specific team offensive plan. With Westbrook and Paul switching places the question is whether this dynamic will carry over to their new teams.So, based on this trend I pulled up some team offensive stats to see if the theory of ball movement and pace factored in. Specifically, I looked at where the Rockets and Thunder ranked in pace, assist percentage and assist ratio."

How swapping Westbrook for CP3 changes Rockets:

Yesterday (August 23rd), SB Nation scribe Mike Prada dove into a similar article focusing on how the Rockets offense will change based on the arrival of Westbrook.

"Each fundamentally changes an entire team’s style of play — just in drastically different ways. With Paul joining the deliberate Harden two years ago, the Rockets revolutionized isolation play, downplaying fundamental basketball elements like passing, moving, and running in the name of pragmatism. Meanwhile, Westbrook’s Thunder were known for hard-charging athleticism that overwhelmed most teams, but not the more calculating defenses in the playoffs. Both approaches succeeded until they bumped up against the same glass ceiling."

Prada’s article dives into the specifics of last seasons Rockets examining their pace, transition and  fast break scoring, reliance on isolation offense and precision passing. He offers insight into how Westbrook should affect the Rockets ability to run more and create offensive variance for the Houston Rockets.

In essence, both articles are examing how the point guard roles will affect their new squads.

Next. Taking a flier on Justin Patton is good business – following his path to the Thunder. dark

Also featured today, a look at the horde of draft picks OKC Thunder amassed in six days and whether Sam Presti can strike lightning twice. Plus TI looks at the Lakers frontcourt depth issues with a comparison of Dwight Howard versus Nerlens Noel. That wraps up your Saturday In the news. Enjoy your day!