10 Bold Predictions For Oklahoma City Thunder

10 Bold Predictions For Oklahoma City Thunder

This season is of great import to the fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder. If health is not an issue, here are some of the things that may happen with the Thunder.

alex-roig
Alex Roig

This season is probably the most important season of record for the Oklahoma City Thunder since they arrived in the Great Plains eight years ago. While every season is important, this season feels...memorable (either for good reasons or bad reasons). Last season, everything went against the Thunder from the beginning of the season, and they paid for it by not making it to the playoffs. This season, with everyone healthy from the outset, the Thunder have the opportunity to be one of the top teams in the league. Here are some bold predictions on how this season might play out.

  1. Russell Westbrook will win the 2015-16 NBA MVP - There is usually one criteria for being named MVP: being the best player on one of the best teams while also playing in 90 percent of the games. Last season, Stephen Curry and James Harden were the only two that qualified for that criteria and finished 1-2 in the MVP voting. LeBron James had a great season (25/6/7), but played in only 69 games. The same could be applied to Russell Westbrook, who led the league in scoring at 28 points per game, to go along with seven rebounds and over 8.5 assists, but played in only 67 games. While everyone is touting Anthony Davis for MVP this season, the consensus is that New Orleans will not crack the top four in the Western Conference. If that is so, then one of the points in the criteria to be MVP gets nullified. Curry will also garner some attention, but MVP voters are like children and Christmas toys: the shiny toy from the year before doesn't really wow them the next year. Harden will also get consideration, but his scoring and usage rate will likely go down with the addition of Ty Lawson. While Westbrook's scoring should also go down, his assist numbers should reach career high levels, possibly into the double digits. A stat line of 24 points, six rebounds, 11 assists, and 1.5 steals, while also leading a 60-win team should catapult Westbrook to his first MVP this season. 
  2. Kevin Durant will win Comeback Player of the Year, while playing in 75 games this season - Kevin Durant showed no ill effects from his surgically repaired broken foot during the preseason. He played in five of the six pre-season games and looked good in every game. The team has already stated that Durant will not have a minute's restriction to begin this year. While the team will likely rest him in spots throughout the season, the consensus is that Durant is healthy and will not be hindered by the foot this season.
  3. The Thunder will have "4" players in the All-Star game this season - Of course, Durant and Westbrook will make the All-Star game. Serge Ibaka will make his first All-Star game of his career. He'll be rewarded by the coaches for being the third best player on the best team of the first half in the NBA. The fourth Thunder player to make the All-Star game will be an ex-Thunder player. Reggie Jackson will be the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star team this season. With Kyrie Irving being out until December/January, Jackson will assume the mantle of best point in the conference until Irving returns to full strength.
  4. Enes Kanter will win Sixth Man of the Year - Enes Kanter will be the top reserve when the season concludes. The big man will average 14 points and nine rebounds and will have 25 double-doubles by season's end. The Sixth Man of the Year award is usually reserved for a wing player, but Kanter will be too much of a force off the bench to be denied.
  5. Scott Brooks will be the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers by June 1st, 2016 - In an effort to pull out all the stops for Durant, the Los Angeles Lakers will fire Byron Scott when the season concludes and quickly hire Scott Brooks to replace him. The former Thunder coach has a great rapport with Durant (and Westbrook) and will be a great asset in the Lakers' pursuit of Durant next offseason. In addition, if the Lakers miss out on Durant, Brooks is known as a good coach for grooming young players to reach their potential.
  6. Andre Roberson will make 32% of his three-pointers this season and will be named to the All-Defense First team - In his short NBA career, Andre Roberson is known for two things: great perimeter defender and horrible perimeter offense. The Thunder envision Roberson being a great 3-and-D threat, causing havoc on the defensive end and punishing teams on the offensive end when they double down on Durant or Westbrook. Unfortunately, the offense part of that equation has been slow to develop. Roberson has worked extremely hard in the offseason on his shot and has looked fluid while taking it.
  7. Mitch McGary will play more minutes than Nick Collison this season - When Mitch McGary was asked during media day about the logjam at the four and five positions on the team, he responded with the following quote, "It's for the coaches to decide and for us big men to earn our spots. Everybody is a little different, everybody brings something different to the table. It doesn't matter to me. I just want to win." Well, McGary has earned some time this preseason. The hyperkinetic big averaged 7.2 points and five rebounds this preseason, and looked well-suited for Coach Billy Donovan's "pace and space" offense. In addition, Nick Collison is in the latter years of his career and will likely benefit from the added rest in case the team needs him later in the season. 
  8. Serge Ibaka will have a 1.5:1 ratio in blocks to three-point shots made - Ibaka is a statistical anomaly in the NBA. He's a 3-and-D player, but his defense comes from the post in the form of blocks. Almost all 3-and-D players are wing players that guard on the perimeter. As Erik Horne of the Oklahoman noted in a recent article, the only statistical comparison to Ibaka has been Raef LaFrentz. A couple seasons ago, Ibaka, who is one of the better mid-range shooters in the league, decided to expand his range to three-point territory. In the two seasons prior to last season, Ibaka made 43 three-pointers total. Last season, in 64 games, he made 77. If healthy, that amount could get up to 120, while his block totals hover around 180-200.
  9. Billy Donovan will win Coach of the Year in 2015-16 - Winning Coach of the Year is usually related to how the team did the previous season. If the team improves their win total by over 12-15 games, then said coach will likely be in contention for Coach of the Year. The Thunder should have no problem improving on their 45-win total from last season if they remain healthy. If the Thunder win 58-62 games, look for Donovan to be in serious consideration for COY.
  10. The Oklahoma City Thunder will defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games to win their first NBA title - The Thunder will once again face LeBron James in the Finals. This time against the Cleveland Cavaliers. When they met four seasons ago, the Thunder was still wet behind the ears. This time around though, they are a veteran bunch chiseled by the grind of experience and hurt. Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka will push the Thunder over the hump to win their first title.
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