Previews

NBA season preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

westbrook adams

STAYING: Steven Adams, Nick Collison, Josh Huestis, Enes Kanter, Mitch McGary, Anthony Morrow, Cameron Payne, Andre Roberson, Kyle Singler and Russell Westbrook.

ADDED: Alex Abrines (FC Barcelona), Ersan Ilyasova (Orlando), Victor Oladipo (Orlando) and Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga).

GONE: Kevin Durant (Golden State), Randy Foye (Brooklyn), Serge Ibaka (Orlando), Nazr Mohammed and Dion Waiters (Miami).

STRENGTHS: Russell Westbrook unleashed … With Kevin Durant‘s departure, it’s Westbrook’s team now and you know his competitive juices are going to be flowing even more than normal … Good chance he becomes the most dominant point guard in the game … He’s a physical specimen unlike any other in NBA history at the point guard position … His playmaking skills have vastly improved over time … Explosive backcourt duo with Victor Oladipo … Will be really hard to stay in front of them … They will be a nightmare in the open court … Pretty athletic squad overall … Steven Adams has developed into one of the top young bigs in the game … He should have increased confidence after his coming-out party in the 2016 playoffs … The physical and defensive-oriented Adams complements well up front with a talented offensive player like Enes Kanter … Pretty nice chemistry between the two … Good rebounding team … They led the league in that department the last two seasons … Talent level is still pretty high.

WEAKNESSES: There’s no hiding the loss of Durant is a wrecking ball on the franchise … Having the league’s best duo was Oklahoma City’s biggest strength and it has been taken away by their biggest foe in the Western Conference … Might Westbrook try to do too much now that he’s going to be even more ball dominant? … Like Westbrook, Oladipo is more of a slasher than a shooter … Could that be too much of the same thing? … Last year, they shot a combined 31.9 percent from beyond the arc … Overall, it should be a pretty weak team from three-point range … Compared to other contenders, Oklahoma City has not really been all that efficient in the final minutes of big games … With KD gone, hard to picture how that’s going to improve … They are pretty thin at the small forward position … Young, inexperienced players will be asked to step up … How many of them are ready to deliver? … Depth might be an issue … They take a step back defensively with Kanter in the place of Serge Ibaka in the starting lineup.

PREDICTION: 1st in the Northwest Division, 4th in the Western Conference.

SALARIES:

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