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Russell Westbrook.

The new-look Thunder are a work in progress but the signs are good

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As expected, the Oklahoma City Thunder are experiencing growing pains as they integrate their star-studded trio of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George together. 

With their undeniable talents, they have shown flashes of brilliance on occasions but have largely struggled to figure out how to play with one another on the floor.

All three stars have been used to being the alpha males on their team and are now looking to share the load equally to make the game easier for themselves. 

Usually, when three players of this calibre come together, the issue is with one player maybe not getting enough of the ball or another player dominating too much. 

But in the Thunder's case, the problem is that the trio are looking to get each other involved too much and as a result, each player is lacking assertiveness.

Unselfishness

In the early part of the campaign it's clear to see that Westbrook is adopting a different style to one he had last year and is not being as aggressive and dominant.

He is looking to defer to his new teammates in an effort to get them more comfortable and acclimated to their new setting. 

New York Knicks v Oklahoma City Thunder

As the franchise player, the reigning MVP has taken it upon himself to make things work and believes he has a responsibility to do so.

"That's a part of my job to make sure those guys are [comfortable]," Westbrook said, per ESPN's Royce Young. "Those guys are great players and my job is to make sure they're comfortable, and in their spots, and comfortable with the things that best benefits their game."

Russ was a one-man band last year as he became the second player in league history to average a triple-double. With OKC's early struggles, there was a feeling that he may revert back to the way he played last season and take matters into his own hands. But this is a new Westbrook.

"No, that was last year," Westbrook said. "This is a new year, new team."

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

When Kevin Durant left to join the Golden State Warriors it was suggested that he didn't enjoy playing with the point guard in Oklahoma City and wanted to be with teammates that looked to share the ball more. 

Some of that may factor into Westbrook's new approach as it's clear he's put more emphasis on ball movement and an unselfish brand of basketball with Melo and PG13.

Patience

Because of the talent and the experience that all three players have, it's just a matter of time until they figure it out and they know it's a long season.

They are happy to have teething problems now as long as they're firing on all cylinders come playoff time. 

New York Knicks v Oklahoma City Thunder

The process requires patience and Thunder fans are certainly willing to give their team as much time as they need to become the best versions of themselves. 

After a four-game losing streak, the team has now won three straight and George has played a huge role in their current run.

Following a 102-94 loss to the Denver Nuggets, the players had a closed-door meeting and Westbrook delivered a simple message of encouragement to the former Indiana Pacers man.

"After our loss in Denver, we just had a sit-down with Russ," George said. "I asked Russ what he needs from me, what he wants me to do better. And then I came out the [next] two nights and implemented what he asked of me, and that was just to be myself, be aggressive, and stay in attack mode."

New York Knicks v Oklahoma City Thunder

The result was PG dropping 42 points on the Los Angeles Clippers and 37 on the Dallas Mavericks.

That was followed by a routine win over the Chicago Bulls and there are now signs that things are clicking into place but they need a standout victory to finally prove that they're ready to be contenders this season. 

They currently have the second-best defence in the league so once they settle on an offensive scheme which best incorporates their three All-Stars, the Thunder will be a force when it matters later in the campaign.

But it requires time and patience before things fall into place for the franchise.

Topics:
NBA
Northwest Division
Western Conference
Paul George
Indiana Pacers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook

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