5 Off The Wall Predictions
It’s that time again, another Thunder season is upon us. This current team is going to look a lot different with the departure of cornerstone players like Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. Not to mention the loss of Dion Waiters, who played the fourth most minutes for the Thunder last season. With that being the case, below are some things I’ll be watching for next season:
Player that will surprise the most: Domantas Sabonis
For Thunder fans that have been paying attention to the preseason, you probably won’t be all that surprised by Sabonis. It didn’t take long to see why Donovan decided to throw him in the starting lineup. Sabonis, who is just 20 years old, has shown poise, looks good off the dribble, and has the ability to pass, which the Thunder never got out of Serge Ibaka. There will be growing pains at times during the season, but Sabonis provides an upside that will be fun to watch.
Player with potential to disappoint – Victor Oladipo
The Thunder need Oladipo to be the third best player on this team, so picking him for this category is all relative. It will take multiple players to fill the gap left by KD (and to a much lesser extent, Waiters), but majority of that will be on Oladipo’s shoulders. During the preseason, Oladipo’s shot selection, turnovers, and lack of assists are things that, if they continue, will lead the Thunder to not have a successful season. Statistically, Oladipo’s numbers are down from his three years with the Magic:
Player most likely to be traded – Ersan Ilyasova
Enes Kanter is probably the most common answer here. He has a big contract and has fallen out of favor with most Thunder fans because he hasn’t progressed on defense to our liking. I’m not willing to give up on Kanter just yet, mostly because OKC already has a very good defensive center on this roster in Steven Adams. I could see Ilyasova being traded from this team as he provides the most value to a potential playoff suitor that may try and add a big man that can stretch the floor. The Thunder have a surplus of talent in the frontcourt and it seems to me that Ilyasova could be the odd man out.
Player most likely to become a fan favorite – Alex Abrines
Abrines has potential to fill this category in the same sort of way that Morrow has become a fan favorite. We’ve seen the Thunder get Abrines shots down the stretch of some of these preseason games and he looks completely comfortable taking them. A buzzer beater during the season or hitting a couple dagger 3’s during the season and the hype behind Abrines will grow (not to mention Thunder victories).
Also, much more of this:
Most important player not named Westbrook – Steven Adams
Putting Adams in for this category is a no-brainer, but it gives me the opportunity to talk about how much the Thunder need him. Entering his 4th NBA season, Adams will be called upon to step up in a big way. He is already known as the defensive anchor for this team, but he will need to contribute at a higher clip than previous seasons on the offensive end, which he has been doing in limited action this preseason. If you need further proof that Adams is the second most important player on this team, just go back and watch those preseason games that Adams missed. It isn’t pretty. Life without Adams is a scary thing.