The Thunder dropped a humdinger, 115-112, in Portland on Friday night. Here are five observations from the loss:
1. Russell Westbrook is currently the best player in the NBA
Forget LeBron, forget Steph Curry, forget everyone. Russell Westbrook is playing like a point guard version of ‘90's MJ – he's just doing whatever he wants out there.
Westbrook scored 40 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out 11 assists as he recorded his third straight triple double on Friday. The MVP candidate averaged 31.2 points, 10.3 assists and 9.1 assists in February. That's Oscar Robertson territory.
2. Mitch McGary is a problem
A serious problem. The Thunder rookie got a late start to the season, but his unique talents have been a huge addition to what remains an injury-riddled team. He scored 20 points on 10-of-13 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds in just 28 minutes on Friday.
McGary plays with the effort of Tyler Hansbrough and the skill set of Draymond Green. He outworks lazier opponents, beats bigger opponents down the floor, and gives true big men nightmares because of his footwork and finishing ability. He's too big to defend with a wing, and too quick to defend with a post guy.
3. The right guys perhaps didn't play enough
Dion Waiters, who we all know can get red hot or ice cold, was the latter on Friday. Waiters shot 3-of-12 and played 28 minutes. Kyle Singler, who started in the place of the injured Kevin Durant, played a whopping 31 minutes and scored just three points. It's hard to figure how these guys got that much run while Anthony Morrow, who shot 4-of-4 and 2-of-2 from deep, played just 24 minutes.
Morrow and McGary, despite torching Portland all game long, sat helplessly on the bench as Portland surged back down the stretch.
4. Portland remains a hellish place to play
Some call it the Rose Garden, others call it the Moda Center; but visiting teams usually call it a death trap. Portland is 51-16 at home in the past two seasons, so a loss there, especially one without the reigning MVP, is nothing to hang your head about.
5. Once fully healthy, Thunder will have an embarrassment of riches
This team continues to put on a show without Durant. Yes, it was a loss, but the Thunder outplayed Portland for a good portion of the game. With Westbrook playing at an MVP-level, a solid collection of shooters and a plethora of talented big men, Thunder coach Scott Brooks will have a lot of toys to play with once this roster is finally all together. It's the deepest squad in the NBA.