HoopsHype.com Season Previews

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook - US Presswire

2012/13 SEASON ROSTER
NUM
PLAYER
POS
HT
45
C
6-11
4
F
6-9
14
G
6-6
35
F
6-9
13
G
6-5
11
F
6-6
9
F
6-10
15
G
6-3
3
F
6-11
25
G
6-6
6
G
6-3
33
C
6-10
5
F-C
6-10
8
G
6-4
2
G
6-7
34
C
7-3
21
F
6-8
0
G
6-3

Oklahoma City Thunder      

ADDITIONS:
Perry Jones (Baylor), DeAndre Liggins (Orlando), Daniel Orton (Orlando), Andy Rautins (Lucentum Alicante), Hasheem Thabeet (Portland) and Hollis Thompson (Georgetown).

SUBTRACTIONS:
Derek Fisher, Royal Ivey (Philadelphia) and  Nazr Mohammed (Chicago).

STRENGTHS:
Almost unfair combination of talent, athleticism and chemistry ... Kevin Durant is likely to go down as one of the best players in basketball history and he's in his prime ... He may be the most polished offensive player in the game this side of Kobe Bryant ... Sidekick Russell Westbrook has developed into one of the top point guards in the game ... A dominant scorer, Westbrook can play beastly defense when he's into it ... The Thunder have a third player with the ability to average 20-plus points in James Harden and he comes off the bench ... Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins provide excellent in-the-paint defense ... Pretty hard to finish around the Thunder's rim ... Oklahoma City is the No. 1 shot blocking club in the NBA ... Solid role players like Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison or Eric Maynor help make the team a cohesive unit ... Extremely tough squad to keep up with in terms of athleticism ... Superb fast-break team ... They led the NBA in free-throw shooting percentage last season.

WEAKNESSES:
There's no go-to scorer in the paint ... Offense relies a lot on one-on-one plays ... Westbrook's decision-making is questionable at times ... Turnovers were a big issue in 2011-12 ... They were worst in the league in that category ... They are thin at the center position with Cole Aldrich and Hasheem Thabeet behind Perkins in the depth chart ... Scott Brooks is not up there with the best coaches in the NBA ... Could Harden's contract situation become a distraction?

PROJECTION:
1st in the Northwest Division / 1st in the Western Conference

PROJECTED STARTERS
PG: Russell Westbrook Allen Iverson SG: Thabo Sefolosha Hidayet Turkoglu

SF: Kevin Durant

A big star. One of the quickest and most athletic players in the NBA. Terrific scorer at the point guard position. OKC's Bowen. Efficient defensive player that will not score much. Shot a career-best 43.7 percent from three last year, though. Due to win the MVP award one of these years. Devastating offensive player that's almost impossible to slow down.
Yi Jianlian PF: Serge Ibaka US Presswire C: Kendrick Perkins Patrick O'Bryant Sixth: James Harden
Another athletic freak for Oklahoma City. Led the NBA in blocked shots in 2011-12. Has a nice mid-range jumper. Perkins sets picks, gets rebounds and defends the post. Not so effective doing all that as he was in the past. Key to the Thunder's hopes. Does it all and does it well. May very well become the NBA's top sixth man and an All-Star this year.