People were taking about during the off season that the Thunder were going to struggle this year without Durant. Those were at least the circles that I was in. I have to say though, I think that the Thunder are going to be fine this season. Here are a few take aways from last nights game for the Thunder.
First thing that needs to mention is that this player should be in talks all season for MVP. I think that we could be witnessing a very strong case for him because if you look at what he did without Durant last season it was like he was preparing for this to happen. He was averaging close to a triple-double when Durant was not there. He might be the first player since Oscar Robertson who could average a triple double this season.
Let me repeat that if you didn’t understand what I just said. The last player to average a triple-double during the season was Oscar Robertson during the 1961-62 season. That season he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game. Westbrook last night had 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists. All Westbrook has to do is raise his assists per night and we could be seeing hands down the MVP of this league. Health will play a key role in this as well but we might be witnessing history this year if Westbrook can keep this up all season without being hurt.
The Big Men
For those of you who read this blog, I love the big men positions in the game of basketball. I think that they are starting to become underrated due to the fact that teams are going small ball to win games. However, the big men on the Thunder are most likely going to have a monster season this year. Without Durant being there, someone has to pick up the load and I think Enes Canter and Steven Adams are going to be the ones to do it. Lets start with Canter
People have forgotten this, but Canter was originally drafted by the Utah Jazz back in and was the third over all pick during the 2011 draft. Here is what is interesting for Kanter. During the first three and a half years he was in Utah, his averages for points and rebounds was on a steady climb up. This average points he was averaging when he was traded from Utah was 13.8. When he was traded to the Thunder he started to average 18.7 points. His points went down the next couple of season due to the fact that he was coming off the bench and Durant and Westbrook were scoring most of the time. I see know that Canter is going to be the X factor for this team. I can see him averaging 20 points a game this season or more depending if Westbrook sees him being a factor. Which I do think that Westbrook does see him as the catalyst that is needed for the team to succeed.
I expect him to have a break out year since he is in his fourth year in the league. His stats for scoring have been going up slowly the last three years. Now that Kevin Durant is out of the Thunder line up, I expect that he will be more involved in the offense for the starting line up. Since Canter will be coming off the bench for Adams, it will give Adams more chances to score while Westbrook is out on the floor with him. Adams is going to be key for the starters while Canter will be the key for the bench. The powerful one two punch at the Center position for this team will be super effective. If Adams doesn’t have a break out season with the Thunder, don’t expect the Thunder to go far this year.
Don’t expect much from Victor this season. His game is a little to similar like Westbrook but not as aggressive. I believe that Oladipo will be better if he was coming off the bench with Canter. It would provide the Thunder with two consistent scores on the floor at all times. If Victor doesn’t come off the bench, I don’t see him being involved that much in the offense. He might get close to 20 points a night, but I don’t see him being the super star of the team. If he were to come off the bench with Canter, he would get closer to scoring 20 points a night. Oladipo is like Westbrook in the fact that he needs the ball in his hands to score. Right now at shooting guard he will not be that affected for the Thunder.
I expect the Thunder to make the playoffs, and possible go to the Western Conference Finals. It all depends on what happens between the Spurs, Warriors and Thunder. If the Spurs get the number one seed, then the Thunder will have a chance to make the Western Conference Finals. It will be a battle with the Warriors but I think if they face the Spurs that they won’t make the Western Conference Finals. The other thing to think about is if the Thunder get the number one seed, that you can expect them to make the Western Conference Finals for sure. However, we will have to see how this season goes because health will be an issue for any team all season.