The X Factor: Alex Abrines Could Provide Shooting The OKC Thunder Need
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a tall task in the first round to keep up with the Houston Rockets’ shooting, but Alex Abrines could be a player that is able to help make that task easier.
When it come the Oklahoma City Thunder-Houston Rockets series, it is easy to see what the headlines are.
It’s Russell Westbrook versus James Harden at point guard and what can the Thunder do to slow down the three-point shooting of the Rockets. But in a playoff series there are always players that step up or a stat that pushes a team past its opponent.
For the Thunder, that can be Alex Abrines and his three-point shooting ability.
Abrines for the season shot 38.1 percent from three this season and could be the shooter that the Thunder need to match the shooting of the Rockets.
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When you look at the Thunder’s roster, that is their main weakness and it will have to be addressed in the offseason.
The Thunder finished dead last in team three-point shooting percentage at 32.7 percent, while the Rockets were in the middle of the pack at 15 with 35.7 percent.
In terms of total three-pointers made per game, the Rockets finished first in the league with 14.4 made per game and the next team (the Cleveland Cavaliers) finished with 13, so there is a major gap in three-pointers made between the Rockets and the rest of the NBA.
The Thunder finished 26th with 8.4 made, so if they have a three-point specialist in Abrines step up, they will need all the three-pointers that they can get.
Abrines is a rookie, so getting this experience will be crucial for him.
He finished the season only averaging 6.0 points a game, but what stands out with him is his ability to shoot the three and that could get him on the floor for extended periods of time during this series.
The Thunder will still have to play defense and that is their best bet, but when they have a player that has the ability to shoot the three at an almost 40 percent clip, then they have to at least take a look at him.
The opportunities Abrines has are when Westbrook drives to the basket. Usually Westbrook would try and drive and muscle his way for a shot, but with a shooter waiting on the wing that opens up possibilities that weren’t available before.
Also the Thunder can slow up the game because they will be trying to create possibilities for open shots for Abrines. That will negate chances for the Rockets to shoot threes.
Abrines averaged 15.5 minutes per game and played only 68 games during the season but for this series he might be a player that gets his chance to showcase what he can really do.
The Thunder have a tall task ahead of them to be able to stop the Rockets shooting, but if Abrines can get hot, anything is possible.
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