Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder


Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

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STAYING: Steven Adams, DJ Augustin, Nick Collison, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter, Mitch McGary, Anthony Morrow, Steve Novak, Andre Roberson, Kyle Singler, Dion Waiters and Russell Westbrook.

ADDED: Cameron Payne (Murray State) and Josh Huestis (Oklahoma City Blue).

GONE: Perry Jones (Boston) and Jeremy Lamb (Charlotte).

STRENGTHS: A whole lotta star power … Oklahoma City is the lone NBA team with two legit MVP candidates … Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are dominant offensive players almost impossible to stop … They are so talented and athletic that it’s almost unfair … Very strong fast-break squad … Westbrook is a one-man fast break himself, but they have many other guys who run the floor well too … The Thunder have effective long-range shooters in Durant, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Singler, Steve Novak and DJ Augustin … Even Serge Ibaka is making threes as a spot-up shooter now … The Congolese forward, a borderline All-Star, remains one of the premier defensive players in the NBA … The complementary big man duo of Enes Kanter and Steven Adams gives Oklahoma City both offensive finesse and a mean defensive streak … In terms of athleticism, they are up there with the best clubs in the league … They led the NBA in rebounding and finished second in shot blocking last year… Northwest Division should be pretty weak this season … Still one of the best home-court advantages in the league.

WEAKNESSES: Staying healthy has been a problem for the team’s stars … Durant and Westbrook missed 107 regular season games combined the last two years … Durant comes off a serious injury … Can he get back to his 2013-14 level? … Let’s just say shooting guard position is not as strong as it was during the James Harden years … Can Dion Waiters be counted upon to contribute consistenly? … Conditioning, shot selection and defense have been issues with him … Inconsistency has plagued Kanter, who’s a very poor defensive player … They are not exactly the Spurs when it comes to ball movement … Not many good (or willing) passers … Durant’s looming free agency could be a distraction … Pressure is on knowing a rough year could tempt KD to bolt for another city … Billy Donovan is a question mark as a rookie head coach.

PREDICTION: 1st in the Northwest Division / 3rd in the Western Conference.


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