Two a Days: Oklahoma City Thunder Preview

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook make up one of the NBA's top duos.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook make up one of the NBA’s top duos.

By: Travis Thayer (@TheTravisThayer)

2012-13 Record: 60-22

Projected 2013-14 Finish: 2nd in the Northwest

Projected Starting Lineup

Russell Westbrook, PG (Inj)
Thabo Sefolosha, SG
Kevin Durant, SF
Serge Ibaka, PF
Kendrick Perkins, C

Key Reserves

Reggie Jackson, G
Jeremy Lamb, G
Ryan Gomes, F
Nick Collison, F
Hasheem Thabeet, C

Russell Westbrook went through some on-court activities yesterday at practice, which was encouraging, but don’t expect Westbrook to be ready for the opener.  Westbrook is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, and his return can’t come soon enough. The Thunder are really lacking a scoring punch with the exception of superstar Kevin Durant.  Durant is always a candidate to win the scoring title, and this year will be no exception.  The loss of Kevin Martin (Timberwolves), and the injury to Westbrook will put immense pressure on Durant to provide most of the scoring.  The Thunder would like him to become more of a playmaker this season, and really focus on making his teammates better.  Durant has shown some improvement in that area, and this season could be his best chance to supplant LeBron James as the NBA’s MVP.  We know Durant, Ibaka, and Westbrook (when healthy) are going to produce at a very high level, but it’s the others who will have to make improvements if this team is to go deep into the playoffs.  Reggie Jackson did a nice job filling in for Westbrook last season, and he could be in the discussion for the league’s most improved player at season’s end.  The biggest question surrounding the Thunder is the growth of Jeremy Lamb.  With Kevin Martin gone, Lamb will be counted on to make shots, particularly threes off the bench.  I’m not sold on Lamb yet, and the Thunder will most likely have to explore some trade options (K. Perkins) at some point in the season.  I realize Durant and Westbrook can carry the Thunder, but they will need some vast improvement on their bench in order to compete with the top teams out west.

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