Season preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

Season preview: Oklahoma City Thunder


Season preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

STAYING: Alex Abrines, Steven Adams, Raymond Felton, Terrance Ferguson, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Patrick Patterson, Andre Roberson, Kyle Singler and Russell Westbrook

ADDED: Deonte Burton (Wonju DB Promy), Tyler Davis (Texas A&M), Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky), Timothe Luwawu (Philadelphia), Abdel Nader (Boston), Nerlens Noel (Dallas) and Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta).

GONE: Carmelo Anthony (Houston), Corey Brewer, Nick Collison (retired), PJ Dozier (Boston), Daniel Hamilton (Atlanta), Josh Huestis and Dakari Johnson (Memphis).

STRENGTHS: Russell Westbrook is a wrecking ball of a point guard who can carry a team offensively on his own … He possesses an almost unparalleled combination of athleticism and competitive fire … Will probably be in contention for MVP if OKC does well … Surprising many, Paul George re-signed with the team and so the Thunder have a terrific No. 2 option again this year … He remains one of the best two-way players in the NBA … Perimeter defense should be no joke with PG and Andre Roberson back in the fold … In Steven Adams, they have one of best enforcers in the paint the league has to offer … He does all the dirty work that helps win games and shoots high-percentage shots … They are deeper now with the addition of Dennis Schroeder and Nerlens Noel … OKC has been awful with Westbrook on the bench the last two seasons … Having a starting-caliber point guard like Schroeder as a backup should help there … Overall, it’s a physical, athletic squad that should score a lot on the fast break and rebound the ball with the best of them … They have actually led the league in offensive rebounding percentage three seasons in a row… As always, they will enjoy one of the best home-court advantages in the NBA.

WEAKNESSES: They are no longer an awful three-point shooting team, but 35.4 percent accuracy from beyond the arc is quite low for this era … Bad Russ, he of the bad shot selection and rushed decisions, can hurt the team … We saw too much of that in the last two postseasons, where Westbrook shot below 40 percent from the field … Great ball movement is not something that comes to mind when talking about Thunder basketball … Depth is improved, yet nothing to call home about … They play in a brutal conference where excellent teams will go home in the first round of the playoffs.

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


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