Oklahoma City Thunder: Analyzing Trade For Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson

The Oklahoma City Thunder made a trade hours before the deadline. Here’s a look at what the trades mean for their roster.

The NBA trade deadline came and went without any huge blockbuster trades, but one trade turned heads. It was between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls didn’t move superstar Jimmy Butler, instead they traded away power forward Taj Gibson‘s expiring contract and third-year forward Doug McDermott. With Gibson out of Chicago’s free agency plans this summer, the Bulls did what they could to get something in return for him.

Chicago traded McDermott, Gibson and a 2018 second-round draft pick to the Thunder for point guard Cameron Payne and forwards Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne. The move gives the Thunder added frontcourt depth and some much-needed three-point shooting.

Evaluating the Thunder’s Rotation

With Gibson on the Thunder’s roster, it gives them another big man for point guard Russell Westbrook to facilitate to.

With Enes Kanter, Steven Adams and Domantas Sabonis on the roster, adding Gibson to the mix gives the Oklahoma City Thunder an interior presence on both sides of the ball. Gibson serves as a poor man’s Serge Ibaka, minus the three-point shooting.

He can still stretch the floor for Oklahoma City, running a pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop for offensive looks. Defensively, they get an aggressive defender who won’t back down.

McDermott brings the Oklahoma City Thunder a more sound three-point shooter. McDermott is a career 39.7 percent from three-point range. In comparison, the Thunder are last in the NBA in three-point percentage this season at 32.2 percent.

He averaged 10.2 points and 3.0 rebounds for the Bulls while shooting 37.6 percent from three this season.

Morrow was shooting 29.4 percent from three this season, not a good look for a team looking to succeed in the NBA Playoffs. With McDermott, they get a more reliable shooter who can provide a spark off the bench when needed.

In his first game with Gibson and McDermott, Westbrook dished out 17 assists. Gibson scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in 21 minutes of play. McDermott scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds as well.

Both players give Oklahoma City depth in key areas, which should be interesting come playoff time.

In game two with Gibson and McDermott, it was the Russell Westbrook Show against the New Orleans Pelicans. But that’s also what the move does, allows for Westbrook to create more in open space.

He recorded his seventh-career 40-point triple-double, scoring 41 points with 11 assists and 11 rebounds in a 118-110 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are 23-6 when Westbrook has a triple-double and 11-19 when he doesn’t this season.

Balancing the Rotation

The move also gave rookie guard Alex Abrines a more defined role in the rotation. In his first start of the season, Abrines scored a season-high 19 points, shooting 5-of-11 from the three-point line in the Thunder’s 110-93 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. He played 29 minutes in the game.

In his second start against the Pelicans, he scored 13 points, shooting 3-for-7 from three-point land. Shooting guard Victor Oladipo missed his second straight game with back spasms.

With Morrow and Lauvergne gone via trade, it opens up the opportunity for players like Abrines to get a look at some extra playing time. Rookie Semaj Christon has also seen an uptick in his minutes since the Thunder trade.

So while it may hurt Oklahoma City to let go of Cameron Payne, there are other players on the roster to fill the void.

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