Not breaking any news here but the Thunder are set to make several title runs in the not too distant future.
The main point of this thread is to talk about the potential of Steven Adams, and to a lesser note, Jeremy Lamb. At Pitt Adams never really stood out to me besides his shear size and strength. I thought he would be an average NBA caliber player who was serviceable because of those two attributes. However, throughout the preseason and especially last night I was blown away by his development already. He looks much more athletic and fluid in his movement compared to his days at Pitt. He no longer looks like robotic and runs the floor extremely gracefully. I saw some nice hook shots with both the left and right hands along with some solid footwork (an area he looked totally lost in college). He protects the paint extremely well with his size and strength. Look out when he develops an 15 footer, adds to his post moves, and gets a better feel for the game. He should challenge Perkins for minutes already this year. I know who I would go with.
Lamb also has some room for growth and maturity but he will make an excellent 3rd scoring option behind KD and Russ. Last night he was breaking down Jimmy Butler with ease on a few plays whose defense gives fits to LeBron, Melo, KD, and Paul George. He has incredible length and seems to be giving more of an effort on the defensive side of the ball early on this year. With Westbrook out teams will be keying on Durant more than ever and this should give Lamb some time to shine.
I think they have a chance to have 5 All-Stars on their team with KD, Russ, Ibaka, and the two youngsters in Adams and Lamb in a few years. Whatever the case may be, it is not a matter of if they win a championship, but when. They will have salary concerns again but soon veterans will be headed to OKC in an attempt to get a ring. I also have loved Andre Roberson throughout his career and think he will be a valuable piece.
I think in college the defense was compacted in on Adams and he didn't have enough spacing to operate without getting doubled or the threat of a double. Adams for the Thunder needs to get to open space near the hoop, have his hands ready for a quick pass, and make easy finishes. Nothing too complicated in his first year. I think post isolation moves will have to be later in his career as he adapts to the NBA game. Adams needs to rebound, play good defense, block shots, play hard and make easy finishes and he will fit in perfect with the Thunder.
I feel the same thing happened to Drummond at UConn in his lone year. He is big and athletic, but there was no room to operate in college because teams are taught to drop down to the basket away from the ball. In the NBA if you do that, shooters will make you pay big time if you leave them wide open.
I am really excited for Adams development with the Thunder. I always liked his game, and hopefully this will be the Center that finally sticks with the team and isn't a bust.
The Big East teams run alot of 2-3 zone defense, which forces teams to shot 3's. Pitt didn't have a good high post player to flash to the free throw line, create and look down low. It hurt Adams.
I don't think it would've mattered where he went to school. He was too unpolished offensively to be a legitimate post threat anyways. Maybe if he went to a mid major where he could physically dominate 6'6 PFs, but not at a high major.
Pitt is a really good program for teaching fundamentals and he improved throughout the season. Jamie Dixon might not be much of a recruiter, but he's a hell of a teacher. Adams happens to be really coachable too. Despite how raw and experienced he might be, he still does a lot of things fundamentally well. His physical readiness and his physical nature, combined with his fundamentals are the reasons why he's ready to contribute now.
Wouldnt go as far to call j lamb and adams future allstars but I think they would be good starters. With the impact of reggie jackson they still have a good young core. I also agree that Ibaka will continue his development and suprise alot of people. Anthor question what would you rank their young core compared to the rest of the league.
The Thunder are definitely a contender this year but they really need a healthy Westbrook when the playoffs roll around. Fortunately for them, the Heat and Spurs seem to be peaking and this might be their last legit run. After this season it looks like the Thunder and Bulls will be the top two contenders.
I expect the Thunder to win AT LEAST one title in the next three seasons.
They have a great core with MVP candidate Kevin Durant, super star Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka as the defensive weapon and third option along with some good role players like Thabo, Reggie Jackson, Nick Collison, and now Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams.
They are flying under the radar a bit this season, and I think they could get back to the Finals this year. The West is very deep but they might not have an ELITE team like the Heat (and Bulls?) in the East. We could see a Heat/Thunder rematch this year.
I'm probably in the minority here, but I think OKC's window is closing fast. They don't have enough options scoring wise anymore. Ibaka is not reliable as a third option. Is Lamb ready to take over Martin's scoring void? Is Westbrook ready? There are just so many questions with this team and they are so young, I don't think they'll be ready to take that jump in the next 2-3 years. We've seen what happens when they rely solely on KD and Westbrook in the playoffs. I think Houston will surpass them and the Harden trade was so cataclysmic, they may never recover. Jalen Rose brought up an interesting point that KD may leave after his contract is up and if they haven't won a 'ship by then, I think it's a distinct possibility. Russell too.
I don't think they are flying under the radar at all. They won't win as many games as they did last year because they will be missing Russell for part of the season. But once he comes back and is back in form the Thunder are the best team in the West. I really like the San Antonio. But I say that they are the best team in the West if they are health. I'm sure most people would agree.
People are looking for Lamb to pick up that 6th man role left by Kevin Martin and James Harden before him, but I'm looking at Reggie Jackson to fill that role. He has the size and length to play the 2 next to Westbrook, ball handling, play making, and ever improving range on his jump shot. Lamb could be that guy in a year or two but for this season I see Jackson filling that role when Westbrook comes back.
Side note PJ3 is weak physically and mentally. I really liked this guy coming out of Baylor and thought it was a steal. I want him to do well but I'm losing faith in him every time I see him getting punked in the paint.
I think a lot of you are overestimating the Thunder. Yes they have a nice team but whichever team has Lebron in it's lineup over the next at least five years will be favored to win it all. There are also some other excellent teams with good potential in Chicago, Indiana, Golden State and the Clippers. I think they are the favorites in the Western Conference but they need more people to help with the scoring load. To say they will definitely win a title in the next few years is definitely a bold prediction.