Happy Thunder Eve! I enter my fourth season chasing the Oklahoma City Thunder around the country and feeling optimistic about this year’s team. Warning: I’ve always had a glass-half-full mentality, unless it's a cup of coffee. At the moment I type this, my Southwest Airlines Community coffee is half-empty, and we need to work on that.
No joke: coffee keeps me going during the basketball season.
Is Russ (knee) playing in the opener at Golden State? Not sure, but we all know what type of competitor he is. Hopefully an answer will be given after shoot-around in San Francisco Tuesday, but this sure sounds like a game-time decision.
The Thunder addressed their biggest issue in the off season by re-signing Paul George. Jerami Grant re-upping was a pleasant surprise, too. The bench?
More than a few times while watching the games with other media members (non-Thunder), the opinion was pretty much the same: "The Thunder bench isn’t very good."
The same thoughts could be heard two seasons ago, too.
Enter a rejuvenated Dennis Schroder. The guard was stuck in the mud, so to speak, in Atlanta. Losing tends to wear on you after a while. The point guard is exactly what the Thunder needs to play at a fast-but-controlled pace. Intrigued like so many others to see what Russ and Dennis look like on the court together: could they comprise the fastest backcourt in the NBA?
The addition of Nerlens Noel is a bump up from big-and-burly Dakari Johnson. Noel has underachieved since he left Kentucky early. He needs to play better this season to raise his salary, I suspect he will; money is usually a good motivator in any profession.
So how many wins this season? The West is tough as usual, but San Antonio will take a dip and teams such as Phoenix and Sacramento got better from a year ago.
Here it is: I'm going with 52 wins and saying they have an excellent chance to make the Western Conference Finals IF everyone is healthy and they avoid the mighty Warriors in the semifinals.
Coffee cup is empty. Gotta go now.