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Andrew Schlecht, OKC Dream Team Podcast Host

JR Sports Brief / JR
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2024 8:46 pm

Andrew Schlecht, OKC Dream Team Podcast Host

JR Sports Brief / JR

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May 14, 2024 8:46 pm

Andrew Schlecht joined JR to discuss the Thunder's Game 4 victory and if OKC has enough to take down the Mavericks in this series. 

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Download June's Journey now on your Android or iOS device or play on PC through Facebook games. Andrew, thank you for the time, man. Yeah, thanks for having me.

No problem. Look, this is a team that's they're capable of going to the Western Conference Finals. I wouldn't be shocked if they went to the NBA Finals. What was the expectation from the city as an overall before the season got started? Was it Western Conference Finals? I don't think people had that much faith in Sam Presti.

Yeah, I mean, I think everybody had pretty temperate expectations. You know, they won 40 games last year. They lost in the playing tournament. They won one game in New Orleans. They lost in Minnesota.

I don't think people expected them to. I think the expectation was make the playoffs and then just kind of see what happens. And the most likely outcome with being the second youngest team in the NBA is that you lose in the first round because young teams lose. I think kind of the blueprint of what we thought would happen is a lot like what Orlando season looks like. You know, Orlando had a really nice season. They had some good and some bad about their team, and then they ultimately lose in the first round to a more experienced team. I think that's what kind of what people expected. And now the Thunder, you know, they got the first seed in the West.

I don't think that was expected. You know, they beat a team that I really believe the Pelicans were the worst team in the playoffs. And so they swept them, which is, you know, they're the youngest team to ever sweep in the history of the league. And now they're in the 2-2 battle with Dallas and they're getting a little bit of luck because there's no Maxi Cleva.

There's, you know, a hobbled Luca Doncic and they're kind of being put to the test still, but they answered the call last night. Andrew Schlecht is here with us, host of the OKC Dream Team podcast. Everybody talks about Shea Gilgus Alexander, ended up in the MVP or as an MVP finalist. What player do you think took the largest jump?

We know we see Chet, but hey, this is the first time we're really seeing him full play. Who took the biggest step? Biggest step? Yeah, I think part of why the Thunder team is so good is there are a lot of guys that took big steps. I think the biggest step certainly came from Jaylen Williams, who they're starting, you know, small forward or power forward, whatever position you want to call him. He bulked up over the offseason. He improved his shot making. He improved as a passer and he improved as a defender. And part of the reason they've exceeded expectations is that this is a guy who was one of the best fourth quarter scorers in the NBA this season. You know, they would sit Shea at the beginning of every fourth quarter and oftentimes the Thunder would either gain a lead or extend a lead because of J-Dub.

And so to me, he was the one that probably improved the most, but I think you kind of got improvements throughout the roster. I think Lou Dortz, another one who just improved by his shot selection. You know, he shot, you know, around 40% from three this season in part because he just took the wide open in rhythm threes. In the past, he was taking a lot of off the dribble threes.

He was driving to the hoop a little bit too much. And this season he became, you know, one of the better three and D players in the NBA. But I would say the most improved is J-Dub and don't discount Shea. Shea became a better defender. Shea became a better passer. Shea, you know, became a more solid, you know, isolation player over the offseason. So, you know, you don't go from 40 to 57 and number one in the West without improvements across the board. Well, Andrew, speaking of that improvement, it's without a doubt, you can see the camaraderie between everybody on the team.

We see it in the postgame interviews, the press conferences. Why are they so tightly wound? Is it simply because they're so similar in age? Like, why are they together all the time?

Yeah, I mean, this is really similar to the first iteration of the Thunder. Some of it is their age. You know, most of these guys are single. Most of these guys don't have kids yet. Their lives outside of the NBA aren't very complicated right now. And so they can spend a lot of time together. And, you know, a lot of these guys are drafted by the Thunder. And so they they all feel this kind of kinship together.

And it's it is by design. You know, Sam Pressley brought these guys together. They are kind of cut from a similar cloth with their competitiveness, but also their personalities.

And I think that's pretty important. When you think about how this team has been constructed, we know Shay Gilgas Alexander was traded over basically after year one by the Clippers and Sam Pressley for a team you mentioned that had a Duran and a Hardin and Westbrook. It seemed like it would be for ever until they were back to this point. Sam Pressley, I mean, where's the credit for this man? Yeah, I mean, he he had a very clear vision for what he wanted to do with this team and with this roster. He drafted guys that some people didn't have very high on their boards. You know, Jada was not somebody that people thought should be a lottery pick going into that draft night. You know, they targeted Chet very early on as somebody that they that they wanted who could kind of complete their roster.

And then obviously getting Shay and all the draft picks that he did from the Paul George trade. You know, some some of it's luck and lightning in a bottle that they've caught, but it was all very intentional and meticulously put together. You know, they do all the scouting. You know, Sam Pressley is not sitting back in his easy chair today.

He's at the draft combine right now. You know, it's the constant work that they put in and the kind of the foundation that they've been laying for this franchise, you know, for 15 years. That is like kind of culminating in where they're at today. You know, the work the work was not just the draft picks. It's it's the kind of culture that they've set forth for this entire team. And it's it's starting to pay dividends.

Andrew select host of the Oklahoma City Dream Team podcast is joining us. Do you have this team knocking off these maps? I think if they can play up to their potential, which they honestly haven't even done yet, you know, they haven't shot the ball very well, except for game one. If they can just shoot normally, I think that they'll win game five and six.

But I don't think that's guaranteed. You know, the maps have defended really well. The maps were just a few free throws away from winning that game last night. I do believe that they will win this series. They have the home court advantage basically in a three game series now going back to OKC. So I think that they will win the series.

But I do think that it's closer to 60 40 than it is like 80 20. You know, proposition for the Thunder, you know, they haven't they haven't played well. They've struggled defensively in spots and they've struggled to get production from, you know, guys other than Shay and really chat. You know, the the team outside of Shane chat last night shot a 15 56. They got 26% from the field. And so it feels good when you win.

And you can kind of talk about all the things that went well. But there's a very real case that you know, this this didn't go the Thunder's way last night. And you look to the supporting cast.

You look to everybody other than Shay and didn't go very well. So coming back to OKC tomorrow night, they're really going to need their supporting cast to step up and make some shots for Andrew, regardless of whether they are eliminated in a couple of days or maybe they play until next month and win the championship. This is a team. This is a roster that's that's not going anywhere. What are some areas that they can improve in?

What are some assets that they have? What are some potential adjustments they could make to even get better next season? Yeah, I think that they'll try to improve through the draft. I think that something that they're missing is kind of a bigger forward. You know, you see them defending the likes of PJ Washington, you know, with Shay and with Jalen Williams.

And those guys are good defenders in their own right. But they don't really have a six foot eight, six foot nine forward that can move his feet. And they do have one kind of waiting in the wings and Usman Jang, who played in the G League.

He was the G League Finals MVP. He's a nice player. I am a little skeptical if he can contribute as soon as next season. But I could see them, you know, fulfilling some of this through the draft. They have a ton of cap space heading into the summer. They're usually not a free agent destination, but they do have that. And then they have a plethora of draft picks. You know, they have the 12th pick in this upcoming draft. They have multiple picks in the twenty twenty five draft. They're they're well set up to get what they need.

And I think this is kind of this is step one. I think people can kind of get caught up in this fun run that they're having now and forget that this is step one of kind of figuring out what they've got and figuring out, you know, who is long for this team and who's not. And I do think that eventually they're going to have to have to pick up a bigger power forward type player that can play next to Chet that can defend multiple positions, kind of like Aaron Gordon does for Denver, that kind of player to complete their roster. And so I look for them to try to do that in the draft.

And if they're not able to do that, I've seen I would see them do it via trade because they do have a lot of assets and they do have, you know, players that are desirable for other teams. Well, Andrew, did you did you just also say they have another big man who was just G League finals MVP to have another giant that they're stashing around? Yeah, he's a forward. He's six eleven and he's I mean, he's really skilled. He's really struggled with physicality, though, and he did better with that in the G League this year. And he I mean, he's picked eleven in the draft two years ago. So this is a guy that, you know, has some pedigree that, you know, out of France, he played overseas in what would have been like his college freshman season and he was drafted really young. And so he was always thought of as a project.

And I think there is some belief in him, you know, to come over and to give him a shot. But when you're this good, it is tough to have projects on your team. It is tough to develop projects. You know, you need those developmental years and developmental minutes in order to get better in the NBA or else you can kind of get left behind. And so, you know, we've seen that with a lot of different teams. You know, Golden State had this had some success stories, but they've also had some guys that really, you know, James Wiseman, maybe he didn't work for anybody, but he certainly wasn't going to work for the Warriors because what he needed was reps. He needed time on the court and he was too much of a project for them to develop. And so I think Jang is somebody that kind of, if he's not, if he doesn't have a really good summer, he's somebody that could also get lost in the shuffle because they just don't have developmental minutes to give guys, you know, 10, 15, 20 minutes to somebody who's just not very good.

Yeah. Well, they've shuffled them around. He could work.

They don't necessarily need him. We see where this team is going and Sam Presti has done an excellent job. Hey, Andrew, tell everybody where they could follow you in the OKC Dream Team podcast.

Yeah, you can go find me on Twitter at Andrew K. Schlech and then you can go follow all my work at The Athletic and you can go find the Dream Team show at Patreon.com slash OKC Dream Team. Appreciate you, man. Enjoy the rest of the ride, OK? All right. Appreciate it. Thank you. This episode is brought to you by Progressive Insurance, whether you love true crime or comedy, celebrity interviews or news, you call the shots on what's in your podcast queue. And guess what? Now you can call them on your auto insurance, too, with the name your price tool from Progressive.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-14 22:38:31 / 2024-05-14 22:45:30 / 7

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