LeBron James is going to be a free agent in 2018 and one of the teams that could surprisingly get him on their roster is the OKC Thunder.
LeBron James is the greatest player in the NBA right now. It looks like his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers could be done after this year with the team going young and him being at odds with the front office.
There has been major speculation as to where LeBron would go in free agency after this season. People have said the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and even the Golden State Warriors. Could the Oklahoma City Thunder be a surprise destination?
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were not supposed to be in OKC, but they managed to be on the roster at the beginning of the season. The Thunder could be able to work their magic again if Paul George leaves and goes to the Lakers.
There are three reasons why this could happen:
The Thunder have Russell Westbrook
The best point guard that LeBron has played with is Kyrie Irving. That resulted in a championship. Pairing Westbrook with LeBron would be a dream for the Thunder. Both players are explosive, they have the capability to lead the team and they can go for a triple-double on any given night.
LeBron has just went for two triple-doubles in his past two games and Westbrook finished last season averaging a triple-double. Westbrook and LeBron are No. 1 and No. 2 in terms of triple-doubles this season.
Westbrook is an MVP. That would be the first MVP at point guard (still in his prime, at least) that LeBron has ever played with. Kevin Durant was able to do that when he joined forces with Stephen Curry. LeBron would no longer have to shoulder the load, since Westbrook likes to have the ball in his hands, so that would be a fit chemistry-wise for the team. LeBron James and Westbrook are fifth and seventh in the league in points per game, respectively.
Getting LeBron would be an upgrade offensively. OKC fans would love to see LeBron and Westbrook flying down the court during a fast break as well. Pairing two of the most explosive players in the game together would be the league’s worst nightmare because both players are so similar.
The Thunder have Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are the best of friends. It was reported that LeBron and the group of Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade would want to go to L.A. and create a super-team. It looks like Paul is happy in Houston and Carmelo has another year on his contract with OKC, so that plan may have to go on hold.
If LeBron has an opportunity to play with one of his best friends in the NBA, then he might just take a look at that chance. On the court their games could complement each other. Carmelo is one of the best pure scorers in the league. If LeBron has the opportunity to get Carmelo the ball, then he will put him in good positions to score.
LeBron James is as good a facilitator as he is a finisher. Imagine a no-look pass from LeBron to Carmelo in transition, or Melo being able to get a wide open 3-point look. This could be a possibility.
LeBron makes everybody around him better and he could help elevate Carmelo’s game and take him to the Finals. Carmelo has never been to the Finals, just like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love hadn’t until LeBron was able to get them there.
The win-now potential is there
If LeBron James were to join the Lakers with Paul George, their chances to win in the crowded West would not be better than LeBron joining OKC. OKC currently is sixth in the conference and the Lakers are 11th. Joining a team without potential to win a championship right now would not be something that LeBron, at age 33, would like to do.
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If he joins OKC, he is joining Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony and other pieces like Steven Adams and a defensive stud like Andre Roberson that are prime components to having a championship team. LeBron will be the first to tell you about playing on a team that is not capable defensively.
In OKC, there are pieces offensively and defensively that will make LeBron’s life easier. Look at these numbers: OKC is fifth in defensive rating. The Lakers are ninth and the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently 28th. The Thunder are first in deflections per game (17.6), and second in loose balls recovered per game (9). The Cavaliers are 24th and 18th, respectively.
LeBron James played with the Miami Heat and a Big Three was formed there. During those years he never had a season where he averaged less than 26 points a game. In the three years that he formed the Big Three with Irving and Love, he never averaged less than 25 points per game.
If LeBron were to join OKC and form another Big Three with Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook, he would see no drop-off. That was one of the knocks of the current OKC Big Three.
Getting LeBron would be an excellent fallback plan if Paul George were to leave. George is in his seventh year and LeBron is in his 14th year, but if you had the opportunity to add the best player in the world, would you pass up the opportunity?