Thunder Future, Part 5
Today we're wrapping up our series on the future of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last week we began on Monday when Randy Renner and Jeremy Griffin looked at Thunder head coach Scott Brooks and two of the Thunder's Big Three, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.
Wednesday in Part 2, they examined the changes that could be on the way for some key bench guys, Reggie Jackson, Caron Butler and Nick Collison.
Friday the focus was on three players who've been mainstays in the starting lineup, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha.
Monday the guys looked at three more players off the bench, Hasheem Thabeet, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III and today we finish off the series by looking back at last year's Thunder draft class, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Grant Jerrett.
Do all three stick around or does somebody hit the door?
RANDY (RETURNS):Well what can you say about the big Kiwi? When he was drafted a year ago a lot of Thunder fans and some media members weren’t all that impressed. Afterall Adams didn’t grow up playing basketball and he had just finished his freshman year at Pittsburgh where he’d been okay but certainly not spectacular.
Most figured he probably wasn’t really worth the #12 pick the Thunder spent to get him. But Adams quickly impressed in Summer League and then in training camp where he beat out Hasheem Thabeet for the backup center job.
Going into next season he might very well beat out Kendrick Perkins for the starting job and I think eventually he will. I’m not quite ready to get on board with some others who have said Adams will be the starting center on Opening Night, but clearly he is the Thunder’s future at that position.
Perk has vowed to come back in the best shape of his career, knowing he’s in a contract year and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Adams knows what he needs to work on (pick and roll defense primarily and his free throw shooting which was an abysmal 34.8 percent in the playoffs) and he’s not shy about doing the work that’s needed.
Adams will play in Summer League next month in Orlando and will stay in OKC most of the rest of the summer working out with Thunder coaches and staff.
Unless there’s some sort of setback, Adams should the Thunder’s starting center by mid-season and head coach Scott Brooks could pull the trigger on that promotion even sooner if Adams impresses again during training camp.
JEREMY (RETURNS): There is no need to back this up with words as Adams has backed it up all year long with great play and fast development. He will replace Kendrick Perkins as the starting center more than likely at some point next season AND by the 2016 season will be an All-Star Center. Yeah, the Thunder keep the most promising player they’ve ever had at the center position.
RANDY (RETURNS): Roberson went from a guy most didn’t expect to contribute to the Thunder’s starting shooting guard during some of the games missed by Thabo Sefolosha. Roberson played in 40 of the Thunder’s 82 regular season games and started 16.
He was generally very good on the defensive end where his length and athleticism helped deflect passes and pull down rebounds.
For instance when Roberson was on the floor he grabbed 10.7 percent of the available offensive rebounds. Compare that to Serge Ibaka who hauled in right at 10 percent of the available offensive boards when he was on the floor. In total rebounds, Ibaka got 15 percent of those available when he was on floor and Roberson wasn’t too far behind at 13.3 percent.
He was also outstanding on offense when cutting to the basket along the baseline or driving the lane. Roberson shot 56.4 percent on 2-point attempts (mostly at the rim). From three feet and on in his percentage jumps to 67.4, but from beyond that the numbers were pretty bad. Roberson made just 15.4 percent of his 3-balls. He never attempted anything from mid-range. The Thunder would love for him to develop his 3-point shot and he spent much of the season working on his shooting mechanics.
If he can become a decent 3-point shooter and maintain the ability to cut inside for open looks and continue to be a tough defender the Thunder will have a place for him.
JEREMY (RETURNS): Andre was the main guy going back and forth from the D-league this last season and that has done him good. Honestly he is really that Reggie Jackson type developing player who will more than likely find a niche as an offensive rebounding cutter that the Thunder can really scheme with. Right now, Russ is the most aggressive offensive rebounder and being so deep in the back court limits his opportunities so getting another quick high jumper flying in from the wings like Andre does can really improve a stat line the Thunder hold in high esteem.
He can also add to the team’s offense with scoring as well, what with the potentially high offensive put-backs he is sure to get.
RANDY (MAYBE): The Thunder made a trade with Portland last year in the second round on draft night to get Jerrett because his size and shooting ability intrigued them.
He played on the Thunder’s summer league team and ended up signing on with the Tulsa 66ers. The Thunder brought him at the end of the regular season and he stayed on the roster through the playoffs.
Since Jerrett was a second round pick nothing is guaranteed for him at this point. But, he is a 6-10 guy who can knock it down from beyond the arc.
In Tulsa last season with the 66ers he shot a respectable 36.4 percent from three and he shot 43.1 percent overall. He averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds a game in the D-League. Good enough for the Thunder to maintain their interest as least as far as the 66ers go.
He will play in Summer League and then will try to secure a spot on the roster in training camp.
JEREMY (GONE): Come on Randy, “MAYBE” is not an option. Grant is a developing player but he is also the last man and historically the last man gets replaced. I have no other supporting arguments other than history repeating itself. He’s out.
EDITOR: Okay there you have it our look at the future of the Thunder roster, players we think won't be coming back and what the guys who are returning need to do to get better.
In case you weren't keeping score Randy and Jeremy both said Thabo Sefolosha, and Caron Butler will not be back. Jeremy also said he believed Jeremy Lamb would be traded before the trade deadline of next season and that Grant Jerrett wouldn't be coming back either. Randy put both Jerrett and Hasheem Thabeet in the maybe category depending on what happens with the draft and both Randy and Jeremy said they thought Steven Adams would end up beating out Kendrick Perkins for the starting center job at some point next season.