By Randy Renner
Thunder rookie Mitch McGary was very impressive at the Orlando Summer League and he hasn't exactly disappointed at training camp either. That hard work begins paying off tonight with a start for the first year forward from Michigan.
Not only will McGary start, he'll likely play big minutes. The Thunder's regular starter, Serge Ibaka, is sitting this one out with a sprained ankle and Ibaka's backup, Nick Collison also has a sprained ankle and will join Ibaka on the bench.
McGary's start is a bit of a surprise, most of us figured Perry Jones III would have that honor. But Jones was given Sunday's blue/white scrimmage off so he could rest and it's not clear how much he might play tonight. Jones is coming off summer arthroscopic knee surgery and the team may be just bringing him along slowly.
Kendrick Perkins is out tonight too with that strained quad, so backup Steven Adams will start in his place. Adams, especially with Perkins missing significant training camp time, could win the job before the season starts.
As expected second year man Andre Roberson will start at shooting guard. His defense continues to be impressive and 'Dre has spent a lot of time over the summer tweaking his shot. He's also been very good with backdoor cuts and offensive putbacks.
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told us yesterday that no matter who gets the start in tonight's game at shooting guard, that spot is still very much up for grabs and others will likely get a shot at starting there as well in coming games, so don't read too much into that yet, but I do think Roberson will end up winning the job.
Brooks told reporters in Denver this afternoon that both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would start tonight's game but neither will play very much, it's doubtful they'll be on the court at all in the second half.
Brooks said yesterday this will be a game where guys who haven't played much in the past would have a chance to play a lot.
You can check out our story from yesterday's practice here which includes interviews with McGary, Brooks and Durant.