How can OKC get its Thunder back?
The Oklahoma City Thunder are officially 20 games into the season and, well, it's a disaster.
However, there may be a few things worth considering for the Thunder to finally wake up from the terrifying nightmare that is the team's 2017-18 season.
Fixing Paul George
It's hard to imagine that the Thunder have broken one of the best two-way players in the league. Nobody on the Thunder drops off statistically in a loss quite like George:
George is leading the league with five deflections per game - 1.4 more than second-place Thaddeus Young. He is generally a reliable shutdown defender and while he's on the floor with Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook, they carry a 99.6 defensive rating.
The defensive issue lies in the fourth quarter where the three drop to a 113.7 defensive rating for the final 12 minutes. It's difficult to rely on Anthony and Westbrook, two subpar defenders for support.
Overall, George is shooting the ball relatively well, but a noticeable issue is his struggles from mid-range. George has taken 115 shots from 8-to-24 feet, scoring 34 percent of the time.
The overall team offense has struggled with George, as he is uncertain of his fit on the roster. The trade has yet to work in the Thunder's favor, and a decision has to be made.
Prioritizing his strengths - individual defense and 3-point shooting - as well as allowing him to play as the primary offensive option more often is necessary to get him going. Taking the ball away from Anthony is the ideal direction to help boost George's play.
Less Carmelo Anthony
Anthony has had a terrific career, despite no legitimate team success. He simply isn't a great player anymore, and the 33-year-old needs to learn to accept that.
The numbers show a steadiness to Anthony's game and not necessarily a reason for concern. However, of the 11 best net ratings for three-man lineups for the Thunder, Anthony appears in just three of them. Jerami Grant, on the other hand, appears in nine of those lineups.
Starting Grant over Anthony may not be a popular opinion, but placing Anthony and his iso-heavy offense on the bench would be a better fit. Despite playing with George and Westbrook, Anthony ranks third in the league with 26 percent of his possessions being isolation plays. If he isn't going to change, let him isolate with the weak bench where he should flourish.
Fire Billy Donovan
Look, it isn't easy to coach in the NBA and this may not be Donovan's fault. Things can still turn around for the Thunder. Is Donovan the guy to do that? It's unlikely as it took one of the best statistical seasons in NBA history from Westbrook for the Thunder to be an above-average team last season.
Watching Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis succeed with the Indiana Pacers says a lot about his lack of offensive acumen for the big leagues. He has relegated control of the offense to Westbrook and the defensive collapses late in games are inexplicable.
If David Fizdale was the fall guy for the Memphis Grizzlies struggles, there's no reason to believe Donovan can survive the debacle in Oklahoma City.