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Thunder May Have a Wing Problem

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder dropped to 3-3 after losing to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night, which was the Thunder’s third consecutive loss. Oklahoma City will be very good thanks to the otherworldly talents of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but there are legitimate concerns emerging about the wing rotation.

The starting shooting guard is currently Andre Roberson. The third-year man is a strong defender, but he offers very little on the offensive end of the floor. He’s such a non-threat that this is how teams often guard him:

Roberson is shooting 40 percent from three on the year, but that’s a very small sample size and on basically all wide open shots. Roberson has a solid net rating thanks in part to his defense, but the fact that he doesn’t really need to be guarded is a problem.

The primary backups on the wing are Dion Waiters, Kyle Singler and Anthony Morrow. Waiters is a notably inefficient player and a so-so defender. He’s shooting 39 percent overall on the year (a decent enough 36.4 percent from three) and has a 7.82 PER. Singler has a -7.05 (!!!) PER thanks to his 14.3 percent shooting from the field. Morrow hasn’t scored a point in three games and has barely seen the floor.

All four of these players have a single-digit PER (and one of them negative!), and while that stat has its flaws, being under 10 generally means you’re a below-average player. There’s reason to expect improvement based on track record, but it’s ugly right now.

Ironically enough, Jeremy Lamb, a player the Thunder traded away this summer because he never found a niche in the rotation, is tearing it up with the Charlotte Hornets. Lamb is averaging 14 points while shooting 60 percent overall and 50 percent from three with a PER over 30. That obviously won’t sustain, but Oklahoma City could wind up shaking its head if he winds up being good and its own wing rotation remains a mess.

 

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