The Oklahoma City Thunder were one win away from eliminating the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last season but they let it slip from their hands. To make things even worse, Kevin Durant, who is the face of the Thunder franchise, signed with the Warriors this summer.
Heading into the 2016-17 NBA season, the Thunder starts the life without Kevin Durant but Russell Westbrook is set to take over the team and the league. Here is SportsRageous’ 2016-17 NBA season preview for the Oklahoma City Thunder that include several analysis, outlook and predictions.
Oklahoma City Thunder 2016-17 NBA Season Preview
The Thunder won an impressive 55 games last season which was good for third place in the Western Conference. They easily dispatched the Dallas Mavericks in five games before eliminating the 67-win San Antonio Spurs in the next round.
However, OKC failed to capitalize on the 3-1 advantage they have against Golden State. They were eliminated in heartbreaking fashion before Durant left to join their rivals this summer. Nevertheless, Russell Westbrook is locked up for the next three years and the Thunder have built a good team that can sneak into the playoffs this season.
Oklahoma City is entering the 2016-17 NBA season with several new players acquired from a big trade with the Orlando Magic. The team currently has 20 players on their training camp roster with five players not making the final cut.
Oklahoma City Thunder 2016-17 Training Camp Roster
PG: Semaj Christon, Cameron Payne, Ronnie Price, Russell Westbrook
SG: Alex Abrines, Alex Caruso, Anthony Morrow, Victor Oladipo
SF: Daniel Hamilton, Josh Huestis, Andre Roberson, Kyle Singler
PF: Ersan Ilyasova, Enes Kanter, Mitch McGary, Domantas Sabonis, Chris Wright
C: Steven Adams, Joffrey Lauvergne, Kaleb Tarczewski
Key Losses: Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), Serge Ibaka (Traded to the Orlando Magic), Dion Waiters (Miami Heat)
The Oklahoma City Thunder will have a hard time replacing a former MVP in Kevin Durant with Andre Roberson sliding into the small forward position in the upcoming season. They also traded Serge Ibaka to the Magic in exchange for a bunch of good players.
Steven Adams will now be the team’s anchor on defense while Enes Kanter picks up the scoring left by Ibaka. Finally, Dion Waiters is not going to be missed dearly as the team finds a suitable replacement for him.
Key Additions: Alex Abrines (2013 NBA Draft Pick), Victor Oladipo (Acquired from the Orlando Magic), Ersan Ilyasova (Acquired from the Orlando Magic), Domantas Sabonis (NBA Draft, from the Orlando Magic), Joffrey Lauvergene (Acquired from the Denver Nuggets)
Sam Presti has done a wonderful job building around Russell Westbrook. He signed 2013 NBA Draft pick Alex Abrines to replace Waiters. Oladipo has the potential to be an All-Star and he has developed chemistry with Westbrook already.
Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis and Joffrey Lauvergne cannot turn around the team but they will be a big part of the team’s bench next season. The Thunder still needs to add another superstar and they have already been linked to players such as Paul George, Blake Griffin and Gordon Hayward.
Russell Westbrook is ready to take over the NBA and he has something to prove to everyone, especially to Durant and himself. Oklahoma City still has one of the best fan bases in the world and they are going to make it difficult every time a team visits the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Steven Adams and Enes Kanter is a solid frontcourt and while Westbrook and Victor Oladipo is a very exciting new backcourt that would be great to watch. Head coach Billy Donovan is great in creating different lineups and he has a very good roster to make it work.
The loss of Kevin Durant is certainly depressing and replacing his production will certainly be the problem heading into the season. The defense will also be a problem coming in while also having one of the toughest schedules next season.
Oklahoma City Thunder 2016-17 Predictions
- Projected 15-Man Roster:
- PG: Cameron Payne, Ronnie Price, Russell Westbrook
- SG: Alex Abrines, Anthony Morrow, Victor Oladipo
- SF: Josh Huestis, Andre Roberson, Kyle Singler
- PF: Ersan Ilyasova, Enes Kanter, Mitch McGary, Domantas Sabonis
- C: Steven Adams, Joffrey Lauvergne
Projected Starting 5: PG – Westbrook, SG – Oladipo, SF – Roberson, PF – Kanter, C – Adams
Projected NBA Record: 49 Wins, 6th in the Western Conference