The Oklahoma City Thunder were just one game away from getting to the NBA Finals last season with a 3-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder couldn’t hang on and would lose the final three games of the series to see their 55-win regular season go up in smoke to a Golden State team that had lost just nine times in the regular season. Now, the new season has arrived and it is a very different look for the Thunder as star forward Kevin Durant has departed to join that Warriors bunch that beat him to end last season. Here is a look at the projected Oklahoma City lineup for the 2016-17 season and a look at how well the team will do this coming year.
Point Guard – 6′ 3″, 187 lbs
2015-16 Stats: 23.5 ppg, 10.4 apg, 7.8 rpg
The 27-year-old is now the undisputed star of this Thunder team. He is going to need all the help he can get in the scoring department however with Durant now out of town but Westbrook will get his 20-23 shots a game now and could end up averaging over 30 points a game before season’s end. He is easily the highest paid player on the team and will need to live up to that.
Shooting Guard – 6′ 4″, 210 lbs
2015-16 Stats: 16.0 ppg, 3.9 apg, 4.8 rpg
If the Thunder wanted to replace Durant with a solid option, they definitely did that with the addition of Oladipo via trade from the Orlando Magic. Oladipo averaged 16 points a game last season and gives Oklahoma City a high-scoring backcourt with Westbrook. He has a few things to improve on going to the Western Conference but could be a 20 point a game scorer.
Small Forward – 6’8″, 228 lbs
2015-16 Stats: 3.4 ppg, 0.4 apg, 2.1 rpg
This is the part of the lineup where things could suffer a bit with Durant’s departure. Singler is likely going to end up being the starter and has high expectations. He has starting experience in the past with the Detroit Pistons and won’t be expected to be a huge scorer but must be a key member of this Thunder team for them to be successful.
Power Forward – 6’10”, 235 lbs
2015-16 Stats: 10.4 ppg, 1.1 apg, 5.4 rpg
Another player who will need to play better during the 2016-17 season is Ilyasova who comes over from the Magic as well. His 6’10” frame will be down to get a lot of rebounds off of missed shots from Westbrook and Oladipo. There is hope that Ilyasova can average 10-13 points and 6-7 rebounds a game this coming year. If not, he may end up spending a lot of time on the bench.
Center – 7’0″, 255 lbs
2015-16 Stats: 8.0 ppg, 0.7 apg, 6.7 rpg
Adams is rounding into a solid NBA player as he goes into his fourth season with the Thunder. At seven feet tall, he is a menacing figure in the lane but needs to remain on the court for more than 25 minutes a night and needs to bring up his scoring and rebounding averages in the process. There are choices for coach Billy Donovan if Adams doesn’t live up to his potential.
The Oklahoma City bench is led by Enes Kanter, who will be an ally to Adams when he needs a breather and could easily be on the floor with Adams quite a bit as a scoring option. This is a weakened Thunder team with no Durant but still a team that will be a force to be reckoned with. A 50-55 win season is in the cards again for Oklahoma City.