Thunder Training Camp Just Three Weeks Away
By Randy Renner
With the beginning of September most folks thoughts in Oklahoma naturally turn to the start of football season. The high schools and colleges have already started and the NFL kicks off Thursday night and then a full schedule of games on Sunday.
But more and more of us in Oklahoma City are also thinking more and more about basketball. Thunder basketball.
The Oklahoma City Thunder open training camp three weeks from today and for the first time in recent memory everyone on the roster will be healthy enough to fully participate.
Kevin Durant's right foot is healed from three surgeries to repair a troublesome Jones fracture. Serge Ibaka's knee is ready to go and so is Cameron Payne's finger.
Other players had some minor off-season medical procedures done too and they're ready to go.
The Thunder's roster is now as healthy as its been since the 2011-12 season when they reached the NBA Finals and OKC's roster is deeper and better from top to bottom than its ever been.
The health and the depth couldn't come at a better time since this will be the biggest season in the Thunder's brief history in Oklahoma City.
The future of the franchise hangs in the balance since this is the last year of Durant's current contract. Superstar point guard Russell Westbrook just has this season and one more left on his deal and if Durant decides to take his talents elsewhere next summer, most believe Westbrook will do the same the next summer.
But if the Thunder make a long run in the playoffs and make the Finals or better yet win the NBA Championship the chances increase dramatically that both Durant and Westbrook will re-up.
It will also be fascinating to watch the new dynamic created by head coach Billy Donovan in his first year in charge. Durant and Westbrook have already said they've developed a strong early relationship with Donovan.
How might he change things up to make the OKC offense more diverse and help out his two superstars?
Some of the work has already been done with the late season acquisitions of Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters. Kanter of course needs to be better on defense and Waiters must take better shots and then make more of them.
The hope is going through off-season workouts with their still new teammates and then going through a full training camp will go a long way toward solving the problems.
Over the next three weeks players will return from summer vacations and visits with friends and family back home and then the real work on the Thunder's most important season will begin.