Oklahoma City Thunder, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: The Oklahoma City Thunder are short-staffed

The Oklahoma City Thunder need more capable basketball players, as evidenced by their 0-3 start to the season.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s first two losses this season obviously weren’t ideal for OKC, but they were explainable. Without Russell Westbrook, it makes sense the Thunder could struggle against a really scrappy Los Angeles Clippers team. Even if they had Westbrook for their opener, the Golden State Warriors present a formidable challenge.

The third loss was a different story. Westbrook was back in action, and he played well. Oklahoma City’s franchise player dropped 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists while shooting more than 50 percent from the field.

Unfortunately, it didn’t matter. The Thunder gave up 131 points to the Sacramento Kings at home and lost by 11. Now solidly in last place in the Western Conference, Oklahoma City has some work to do to get itself out of this hole.

Granted, the season is young. There are 79 games left, which is plenty of time to turn around an 0-3 record. To do that, the Thunder are going to have to figure out some pressing problems facing them.

Without Westbrook, Oklahoma City couldn’t score at all. The Thunder put up 100 points in their first game and just 92 in their second contest against the Clippers. With him against Sacramento, they managed to put up 120 but gave up 131. Pretty much everybody on the Kings went off, including Iman Shumpert, who ended the night with 26 points on just 13 field goal attempts.

The Thunder are simply short on useful two-way players. Outside of their big three of Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams, nobody on the roster is reliable night in and out, considering Andre Roberson is still out with his knee injury. The other two starters in Oklahoma City, Terrance Ferguson and Patrick Patterson, combined for six points on two-for-13 shooting in their home opener against the Kings.

The bench doesn’t provide many other options. Dennis Schroder was third in scoring on Sunday, but he needed 16 shots to get his 14 points. As poorly as he may have fit in with the Thunder, at least Carmelo Anthony was good for 16 points each night.

Without a supply of reliable guards and wings, OKC is going to continue to struggle, even with Westbrook back. Their season isn’t over yet, but Oklahoma City needs to pull it together quickly to survive in the cutthroat West playoff race.

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