It hasn’t been a great season for the Oklahoma City Thunder so far, as they were just 7-8 heading into Monday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. That doesn’t necessarily mean their season is doomed, but it’s well below the expectations many had for them after their offseason acquisition of Paul George.
Still, even when the wins aren’t coming, their cast of stars can definitely put up some highlights. In the case of George, that led to turning a routine 3-on-0 breakaway (created by a Russell Westbrook steal and two Pelicans colliding) into a dunk contest-style bounce pass to Jerami Grant, who grabbed it in midair and threw it down:
Woooo unnecessarily awesome in-game dunk contest pass from Paul George pic.twitter.com/eiUAKAA5vg
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) November 21, 2017
That’s undoubtedly going to lead to some criticism of George for showboating here rather than making a regular pass to Grant or dunking it himself, but given the circumstances, this doesn’t seem too bad.
Yes, it’s a one-point game at this point and every point counts, but George and Grant still got the two points and made it look relatively easy. And the bounce pass there is perhaps even easier for Grant to deal with than a regular alley-oop, as he’s got more time to anticipate the ball and jump to meet it at the proper moment. It’s riskier in terms of a turnover, of course, but the complete lack of Pelicans around makes that not too much of a worry here. If Grant had failed on the dunk here and the Thunder hadn’t scored, the critics might have a point, but style points don’t seem that problematic as long as you make the play.
The Thunder will have to be careful with this kind of stuff. When the fancy plays go wrong, the critics will come out in force, and that’s particularly true when the team isn’t performing as well as many expected overall. But this time around, it worked just fine, and this game’s going decently for Oklahoma City; they took a 65-57 lead into the half. And they gave us a fun highlight to watch along the way.
[Rob Perez on Twitter]