The 2015 NBA Playoffs have already had some great moments, but even as they roll on and games become more important, I cannot stop thinking about what could be, or will be, for the Thunder next season. The 2014-2015 Thunder season was incredibly tough to watch, mostly because we all knew that this team had as much talent as any Thunder team we’ve seen in the past, but injuries robbed us from experiencing it’s full potential.
There are quite a few unknowns going into next season, so let us delve into them a little bit:
Billy Donovan – The big news came last week that the new Thunder head coach is Billy Donovan. During Donovan’s press conference, he seemed to say all of the right things. His core values align perfectly with the goals and standards that Sam Presti has set forth for the Thunder. The press conference could not have gone better for Donovan and the Thunder, but still, questions remain. Donovan has never coached professional athletes before, and it certainly won’t be the same as coaching college kids. So, how will the players respond to him? How will his basketball philosophy be accepted by players that are used to doing things a certain way? Will his practice habits, strategies, and game plans translate to the professional level?
Thunder Injuries – If there was a more unlucky team for one NBA season in terms of injuries than the Thunder last year, I can’t think of one. Over the course of the season, the Thunder had 18 different starting lineups, and had 17 different players start a game. The roster consistency was just never there, and that was due to injuries. So, how will Kevin Durant’s injured foot hold up next season? What about Serge’s knee? Kanter and Collison had offseason surgeries as well. In all likelihood, the offseason will give everyone enough time to get healthy and ready for next season. You’ll have to forgive me for being a little gun-shy, though.
Team Chemistry – As stated earlier, the Thunder have an extremely talented roster. When completely healthy, they may have the most talented roster in the NBA. Will that translate when the games are played? KD’s final game played last season was on February 19th; that date also just happens to be when the Thunder acquired Enes Kanter. Presti has mentioned numerous times this offseason that the Thunder traded for Kanter expecting him to re-sign and be with the Thunder for the long-term. Kanter and Ibaka played exactly nine games together last season. NINE. That’s a small sample size, to say the least. Then you take into consideration Dion Waiters and Anthony Morrow; both of those players will have important roles if the Thunder are to be successful next season, and neither have had much game time with Durant.
With the 2014-2015 season behind us, it’s time to look forward. There are many questions surrounding this Thunder team for next year. You can bank on the fact that these unknowns will be picked apart this offseason, and even into next season. I have no idea how it will all play out, but it’s going to be fun to watch…barring injuries, of course!