Player Expectations for the Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook (starter): Face of the franchise and major point producer. Top five player in the world as Thunder point guard; Trade possibility-could happen; Minutes-30 to 34; As Westbrook goes, so does the excitement of the Thunder.
Steven Adams (starter): Best “big” on the team; Trade Possibility-very low; Minutes-28 to 32 As Adams becomes more of a scorer his value continues to go up. A future All-Star at center.
Victor Oladipo (starter): Off guard starter and reserve point guard; should provide plenty of scoring and it will be needed. Gives the Thunder a better than average defender and his athleticism gives the team a dynamic starting backcourt; Trade possibility-very low; Minutes- 30 to 34; A major cog in this Thunder team in scoring and overall play.
Andre Roberson (Starter): Defense is his calling card but expect more offense this season; Expect improvement on slashing to the basket. A better than average rebounder; Trade possibility-low; Minutes-28-32; Will Roberson be on the floor in crunch time? Only Coach knows.
Alejandro Abrines (reserve): Rookie shooter can have a place on this team; Will provide added depth in providing scoring but defense must improve quickly at this level; Very smart court presence; Trade possibility-could happen; Minutes- 8-12 minutes; Could ride the bench for long stretches of the season. Injuries could propel him into significant minutes. Development is important this season. Could be a major contributor in the future.
Nick Collison (reserve): Should see selected playing time in many games; Still a better than average defender. Will not be outworked on the court and high basketball knowledge. Still an important member of the team; Trade possibility-not happening (will retire from his only franchise); Minutes-anywhere from four to twelve in any game needed. Could start if injuries require it.
Josh Huestis (reserve) A question mark as what will happen with this player. Could be a player that is used extensively or not much. Getting better with playing time. Trade possibility-moderate; Minutes-not much to fifteen or more.
Enes Kanter (reserve) Most important big besides Adams. Points and rebounds are needed but better defense keeps him off the floor in certain situations; Trade possibilities-very high; Minutes-20 to 30. Kanter situation in OKC is a mystery. My money is on a trade in the near future.
Joffrey Lauvergne (reserve) A versatile big that gives depth to the Thunder. Can score and bang if pushed. Will play a significant player in the rotation. Trade possibilities-moderate; Minutes-12 to 18. Look for good things in Joffrey. Can be a scorer off the bench.
Ersan Ilyasova (possible starter-reserve) Better long rang shooter than one would expect. Not a banger but has good offensive skills. Below average defender. Trade possibilities-moderate; Minutes-18 to 32.
Anthony Morrow (reserve) Fighting for minutes on this team. 3-point shooter on the down side of his career. Not a good defender. Trade possibilities-low; Minutes-few and far between.
Cameron Payne (reserve) Back-up point guard when healthy. Good player will only get better in his 2nd season once his foot heals. Skill sets are high and can provide points. Trade possibilities- moderate; Minutes (when healthy, 16-20..
Ronnie Price (reserve) Third point guard. Steady player with experience. Trade possibilities-you never know; Minutes-0 to four to eight when Payne is healthy.
Domantas Sabonis (possible starter-reserve) Some might think he will start but I am not a believer. A future big time player in OKC and will see significant minutes in various games, High skill set and if he can hit the three he will get more playing time. Trade possibilities-low; Minutes 12 to 18.
Kyle Singler (reserve) Has his three point shot working in pre-season which could give him significant playing time early in the season. Lacks foot speed and is not a good defender but plays as hard as any on the team not named Westbrook. The coaches like Singler as much as the fans do not. Trade possibilities-only a throw away player in a trade; Minutes-none to 12 (if he is hitting the three he can play some.
Mitch McGary (reserve) Talented player that won’t be in OKC long. Playing for the Thunder would be a surprise; Trade possibilities-very high; Minutes- 0 in OKC.
Feature Photo: OKC’s Alex Abrines (8) is guarded by Memphis’ DJ Stephens (20 and Vince Hunter (32) during the Memphis Grizzlies-Oklahoma City Thunder preseason basketball game at the BOK Center, in Tulsa, on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World