- The Thunder now have three true No. 1 options, but all three aren't used to sharing the ball. Which Oklahoma City star is under the most pressure entering the 2017-18 season? Open Floor debates.
Which so many moves this summer, it's tough to predict which teams will be the most fun (and most miserable) to watch. Thanks to two superstar moves, the Oklahoma City are among most people's most anticipated teams, but not everyone's.
On the latest episode of Open Floor, Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver discussed their personal entertainment rankings for the 2017-18 season and make some bold claims. Surprisingly, Sharp brought down the hammer on the Thunder's lineup experiment that features reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Among the other questions examined this week: Which Oklahoma City star will be under the most pressure this season?
(This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Andrew Sharp: The Thunder aren't even in my top-five teams to watch my list.
Ben Golliver: What!
Sharp: I think it is time to get honest. Because I knew they were on your list and you backed me into a corner where I had to become a Thunder believer just because I don't think Melo sucks and that I think Westbrook deserved MVP last year. I'm not really a Thunder believer. And Russ, I don't enjoy watching him every night. So I am not going to buy in entirely. I think they will be fun and there will be some novelty into watching all three of those guys try to work it out but speaking from my heart on my five teams to watch, I honestly don't care for the Thunder on most nights.
Golliver: That is a real departure from voting Russell Westbrook for MVP, for hyping up Carmelo Anthony for months and months and telling me how Paul George will become the second coming of Kevin Durant.
Sharp: I am not going to let you turn me into an OKC believer on this podcast.
Golliver: Here are the stakes. You think Oklahoma City is going to be better than I do and I think they are going to be more entertaining to watch than you do, if that makes sense. The reason why I am watching is the boom or bust potential. I'm there if it works and I'm there if it is a train wreck. The stakes are very high here. Paul George's future is kind of hanging in the balance. Russell Westbrook's reputation as a player is hanging in the balance, Carmelo Anthony's is hanging in the balance and also I think an underrated storyline is Billy Donovan's reputation as a coach is hanging in the balance. Because we had a pop shot from someone known as Kevin Durant—might of been him, his third alter-ego or his social media manager but it came out on his Twitter that he wasn't feeling Billy Donovan as a coach. That did not get that much attention. That should have been more of the focus in the aftermath of that incident so I think there is some pressure on Billy Donovan too.
Sharp: I think he is in a tough spot because every team Russ has been on has had these strange, disjointed offenses and I think a lot of people just pin it on Westbrook at this point. It happened under Scott Brooks, It happened under Billy Donovan when Durant was there and when he left. It is just the way Westbrook is. I'm not saying he is not great but when he is your point guard, your offense is not going to have great ball movement and that is the only way he knows how to succeed.
Golliver: I just think there's going to be a backlash if that's how it continues.
Sharp: You think this is the year Donovan starts taking heat?
Golliver: Somebody's got too. I will be putting some of it on Westbrook's shoulders. I know you won't because you will probably vote for him for MVP again because you're impressed by his fantastic fantasy stats.
Sharp: The person who is going to be under intense scrutiny this year is Melo. He's the first scapegoat if things don't work out. Melo definitely doesn't think of himself as the third option, he just doesn't. People need to stop saying he's going to come in this year embracing a new role, he's not wired that way. Paul George is probably not going to take heat because if they struggle, a lot of people will sympathize with George and say he just need's a better situation.
But Westbrook is the No. 1 guy. The knives will be out if they struggle early on. Because a lot of people—like one on this podcast—are still resentful of the worship last year that trailed his every move and are ready to have a course correction with him.
To hear more from Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver, subscribe to the Open Floor podcast on iTunes.