Oklahoma City Thunder: 2016 Preview, Offseason/Draft Recap, Outlook
Oklahoma City Thunder 2016 NBA Season Preview
October 27, 2016
NBA Championship: 70/1 Over/under win total: 43.5 See the Latest Odds
The Oklahoma City Thunder embark on their first season without Kevin Durant, as Russell Westbrook is now the face that runs the place in OKC. Will the Thunder thrive with Russ leading the charge?
Here is your 2016 Oklahoma City Thunder preview.
USA TODAY Sports
Key Additions: The biggest addition for OKC has to be the re-signing of point guard Russell Westbrook to a 3-year contract extension worth $85 million. The 5-time all-star has been a key part of any success that the Thunder have had over the years, and almost averaged a triple-double last season, racking up 23.5 points, 10.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds while logging 34.4 minutes per game over his 80-game season last year, while compounding that with 26 points and 11 rebounds per game in his 18 playoff appearances last season. One has to think that Russ and the Thunder have unfinished business with the Warriors after letting a 3-1 conference finals lead slip away, not to mention the ending to the Kevin Durant free agency saga. Speaking of which…
Key Losses: You don’t have to be a basketball fan to have seen the story of the prize of this past offseason’s free agency period, former Thunder star Kevin Durant. Durant made waves and shocked the world by signing with the Golden State Warriors on a 2-year deal. When Durant went down for the majority of the 2014-15 season, and Russell Westbrook and the Thunder were able to survive, it became clear that the two were trying to take over the spotlight, which is ironic considering Durant went to Golden State where he will be sharing the light with the rest of the Warriors starting 5. Durant posted a career 25.6 point per game mark in 641 career games with Seattle/OKC and now takes his talent to a Golden State squad looking to make amends for their finals disappointment just a year prior.
Breaking down the draft: Although the Thunder didn’t have a draft pick on draft night, they made a massive deal for the future, shipping former all-star rim protector Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic in exchange for guard Victor Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova, and the draft rights to the 11th overall pick, Gonzaga big man Domantas Sabonis. The trade shows that OKC will do whatever they need to do to compete in the West this year, even if that means shipping out a fan favorite like Ibaka.
Outlook: The Thunder will not be as much of a powerhouse in their division like years past, however this is still a solid team with the preseason front-runner for MVP in Russell Westbrook. There are enough pieces here for the Thunder to make a playoff run and hopefully bump into the Warriors which would guarantee to have the makings of an interesting playoff matchup.
Projected Record: 52-30