The 2020-21 NBA regular season, which will be 72 games this year because of the late start, doesn’t begin until Dec. 22 but it appears that the Oklahoma City Thunder already are in full tank mode as they have traded two of their best players, future Hall of Famer Chris Paul and fellow guard Dennis Schroder, to the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively. The NBA lifted its trade moratorium on Monday ahead of Wednesday’s draft.
Thunder Clearly Tanking For 2020-21 Season | NBA Expert Analysis
Paul is 35 years old but had another terrific season in 2019-20 as he was named second-team All-NBA. He played in 70 games and averaged 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.59 steals (ranked ninth in NBA) in 31.5 minutes per game.
In clutch time, Paul led the league in total points with 150 while ranking tied for first in steals (10), overall shooting percentage (52.2) and free throw shooting percentage (92.0). He held the best fourth quarter plus/minus rating in the NBA with +172 and his 28 fourth-quarter steals rank tied for third in the league. The Thunder finished the season with an NBA-leading 17 fourth quarter comebacks.
Paul led OKC to the postseason for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons as Oklahoma City finished the year tied with the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz for the fourth-best record (44-28) in the Western Conference. The Thunder lost to the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, although Paul had a triple-double in Game 7. In doing so, he became the oldest player to triple-double in a Game 7 in the playoffs, with the other 30+ players being LeBron James (31) and Jerry West (30).
Paul, 35, will reunite with Suns coach Monty Williams, who coached the point guard for one season (2010-11) in New Orleans. The trade sent Paul and Abdel Nader to the Suns for Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick.
Oubre and Rubio are solid enough players, while Jerome was a 2019 first-round pick who didn’t play much last season. Lecque was simply a throw-in. This deal was all about getting that 2022 first-round pick. Paul was acquired by the Thunder last summer from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook, two future first-round picks and two pick swaps.
After finishing last season by going 8-0 in the bubble and establishing momentum, the Suns suddenly are set to become a factor in the Western Conference this season.
Meanwhile, the Suns got the Lakers’ first-round pick in this year’s draft, No. 28 overall, and Danny Green in exchange for Schroder – L.A. will actually make the pick on Wednesday and then send whomever the Thunder want chosen to OKC. Schroder finished runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year last season. He averaged 18.9 points and 4.0 assists.
Mavericks Star To Miss Start Of Season
Mybookie hasn’t released 2020-21 NBA win totals yet, but consider this when those are out and betting on the Dallas Mavericks: They will be without their second-best player, center Kristaps Porzingis, as he continues to rehabilitate from surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee.
The 7-foot-3 Porzingis underwent surgery in early October to repair the meniscus injury that caused him to miss the final two games of the Mavs’ first-round playoff series loss to the LA Clippers. Porzingis averaged 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in his first season in Dallas.
It could be that Porzingis only misses a handful of games.
Dallas has been active in trade talks this offseason to add a third star to Luka Doncic and Porzingis. The Mavs were interested in Pelicans All-Star guard Jrue Holiday, but the Pels are determined to send him to an Eastern Conference team so as to not have to play against him.
It could be that Dallas targets Clippers Sixth man star Lou Williams. Williams played in 65 regular-season games and started eight. He averaged 18.2 points and 5.6 assists in 28.7 minutes per game. During the playoffs, Williams recorded 12.8 points and 4.2 assists in 26.2 minutes per game. He is entering the final season of a three-year, $24 million extension and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
Dallas struggled to produce offensively during stretches when Doncic was not on the court. Acquiring a talent like Williams would help.
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