Steve's Thunder Notes: A Roster Check Plus Trade Chances
PHILADELPHIA - The new look Thunder start an interesting season at Philadelphia. I've said it before and I'll type it again, motivation will be the driving factor for this team.
They're out to prove they can win, despite the decision we painfully experienced back on the Fourth of July. Kevin Durant left a great team, one that nursed him back to health more than once, and picked the team that denied him a shot at an NBA Title. KD strengthened the Warriors, while weakening the Thunder, that's my question mark on his well-earned decision to do what he wants. I guess the additions of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis were not enticing enough to give Oklahoma City one more season.
The next two weeks we will begin to see if OKC has enough fire power without the guy who left for Oakland. We shouldn't judge the wins and losses too closely though, since head coach Billy Donovan is working on the right combinations on the court. Billy and his staff are too good to not find the right buttons to push for success. Yes this team is playoff worthy, if not, injuries would be the reason why they wouldn't make it. If you have doubts on OKC in the post-season, look at what Portland did last season after losing LaMarcus Aldridge. Here is a look at the roster Sam Presti has set on opening night, plus I'll give you the percentage chances on each player staying with the team all season.
Russell Westbrook: The most athletic player in the league, quickest and the most driven player to succeed. No stop signs on the court for Mr. Westbrook. His driving in the lane and passing it off will be key for OKC's winning chances. He truly loves Oklahoma City. Percentage chances being traded: What's his jersey number? (the percentage would go up if injuries occur...knock on wood)
Steven Adams: Another draft gem from Presti. So far Steven has improved every season, so why would this year be any different? The Russ-Adams combo will be fun to watch this season, the backboards will be rattled. I would be surprised if Adams doesn't average a double-double this season, 12pts, 10rebs. Sound good? The Thunder will try all they can to lock this guy up with a new contract. Steven has taken to Oklahoma City, so it will happen. Percentage chances being traded: 6 percent
Victor Oladipo: Victor started hot in Spain, but since cooled off. The injury to Payne has put Oladipo into a point guard role at times. He needs to average at least 14 points per game. He is one of the key points to OKC's success this season. Victor is playing for a new contract for more money; I expect the best from Vic. Percentage chance being traded: 18 percent
Nick Collison: In the final year of his contract. Nick is a blue-collar worker, fights for rebounds, loose balls and points. His biggest asset maybe helping the other bigs. Collison is a pure student of the game, his experience is priceless. Percentage chances being traded: Zero
Cameron Payne: A point guard with promise and another quality choice by the Thunder in the draft. A broken foot has delayed his sophomore season and it may have delayed a possible trade. A report came out last week saying that Payne to Sacramento for Rudy Gay was possible until he got hurt. The Ronnie Price contract validates this speculation a great deal, now Ronnie is free to go with five million in his pocket. Percentage chance being traded: 55 percent
Semaj Christon: From the Blue to the Thunder, with a year overseas in between. Semaj is a former second round pick that keeps pushing and getting better. The Thunder couldn't let this guy walk away, good defender. The Ohio native may make trading Payne easier if he continues to develop. Percentage chances being traded: 15 percent
Ersan Ilyasova: He was a part of the 3-for-1 trade sending Serge Ibaka to Orlando. Ersan adds height to the lineup and experience. A good shooter, but his defensive skills have been one of his sore spots but overall, Ilyasova is a good option coming off the bench. Percentage chances being traded: 25 percent
Enes Kanter: So impressive coming off the bench, could Enes be just as affective in the starting lineup. If the game is on the line in the 4th, Adams and Kanter can be a pretty lethal combination. If the Thunder make a splash in the trade market, it probably starts with Kanter.
Sabonis, Ilyasova and Lauvergne give the Thunder options if they move one of my favorites on the squad. Percentage chances being traded: 60 percent (I sure hope I'm wrong)
Anthony Morrow: He's playing, he's not playing, Morrow is tough to figure out in the OKC rotation. Anthony is one of my favorites on the team, laid back and can hit the three. An expiring contract, underpaid in my book. Percentage chances being traded: 55 percent
Kyle Singler: Shot the ball very well in the preseason. I would imagine Kyle will see playing time early and if he succeeds, Sam will have to make the choice to stick with him or ship him out. Percentage chances being traded: 58 percent
Alex Abrines: Shooting, shooting, shooting. This is exactly what OKC needs. His defense and strength are being worked on. He has the opportunity to be a valuable player coming off the bench this season and possibly crack the starting five before his three year deal expires. Percentage chances being traded: 15 percent
Joffrey Lauvergne: Acquired from Denver this summer for two second round picks, another good pickup by the Thunder. The Frenchman is an inch shy of seven feet tall, so he's a big man to help the scoring punch inside, he has some skills around the basket and no issues from the free throw line. His position could be valuable if OKC moves another big man this season or maybe Lauvergne is the one who could be used in a trade situation. Percentage chances being traded: 25 percent
Domantas Sabonis: A steal by Sam in the draft. Nice outside touch and with more muscle power added on over time will be tough in the paint. He's already shown flashes of that in the preseason. Percentage chances being traded: 5 percent right now, but who knows, he could be packaged for a superstar in return.
Andre Roberson: Limited scoring threat from the outside, but sneaky good on defense. A team player all the way, will do anything to help the Thunder win. Exceptional play in the post-season last year. Percentage chances being traded: 25 percent
Josh Huestis: The former 2014 first round pick by the Thunder will have a shot to play more with Durant gone. A good player on defense, known to block a shot or two in the preseason. His offense is limited, struggles to create his own shot, but moves well without the ball. A work in progress but the Thunder believe in him. Percentage chances being traded: 25 percent