share

TomShoe's Player Profiles 2013: Oklahoma City Thunder

TomShoe
TomShoe's picture
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/2012
Posts: 621
Points: 2189
Offline
TomShoe's Player Profiles 2013: Oklahoma City Thunder

DISCLAIMER: I do not own or claim to own any of the copyrighted works mentioned in this post. They are property of their respected parties. I am in no way connected and do not claim to be connected to these parties. This post is for informational and convenience purposes only. It was not created for profit, and no money is made by posting this.

So, it turns out "Not Mr. PER" Tom Haberstroh is putting up his updated player profiles for this year. I know many people want to look at them, but ESPN can be a real pain when they're putting up paywalls and shoving the benefits of insider in your face every other article. So, because I'm such a nice guy, also because I'm pulling my hair out waiting for either Oct. 5 (Start of the preseason), or Oct. 30 (start of the regular season), I might as well post them here, for nbadraft.net and the whole internet to enjoy.

Two steps forward, and two steps back. That seems to describe the Thunder's efforts to maintain what was a once-burgeoning dynasty, now just another powerful team in the murderer's row known as the Western conference. Kevin Durant is obviously the man, and Westbrook and Ibaka are still young and improving from their impressive seasons last year. What worries me is how solid the bench is going to be come next year. Nick Collison is as solid as ever, and Reggie Jackson seems poised for a breakout season. But what comes after that? It seems that OKC is hoping to replace the contribution of Harden and Martin in-house, banking on the development of young guys like Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams. Still, as long as they have the KD/Westbrook/Ibaka trio, they'll be favorites to win the West this season.

Anyway, OKC up today, and the 15-man hype machine, the Clippers, will be up Saturday. Enjoy.

- TomShoe

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PROJECTED STARTERS

RUSSELL WESTBROOK, PG

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
24.1
4.4
7.2
.666
14.4

Scouting report
+ Electric athlete who lives in the paint. Difficult to contain off the dribble.
+ Will never be a natural playmaker. Has improved decision-making and cut down on turnovers.
+ Presence on defensive glass. Inattentive defender despite phenomenal tools.

Analysis
The one positive of Westbrook's playoff-ending meniscus injury was it permanently squelched any notion that Oklahoma City is better without him. That position became untenable after watching the Thunder struggle to score while a forlorn Westbrook watched from a suite. Of course, Westbrook and Oklahoma City would have preferred to prove the point another way. Westbrook's injury was especially stunning because he had never before missed a game because of injury in the NBA or even in college. Fortunately, there should be few if any lasting repercussions from his meniscus repair.

The James Harden trade put Westbrook back in the role of lead ball handler after he shared those duties with Harden in 2011-12. While his assist rate bounced back, Westbrook managed to cut his turnover rate further, an indication that he's taking fewer bad risks. That hasn't stopped Westbrook from being aggressive getting to the rim. He attempted 383 shots within two feet of the basket, good for third in the league, per Basketball-Reference.com. When opponents play off him, Westbrook has developed into a consistent midrange shooter. He particularly loves to pull up at the elbow off pick-and-rolls.

It's hard to believe now that Westbrook was considered a better defender than offensive player when he matriculated at UCLA. The physical tools are still there, but Westbrook is inconsistent with his effort and often gets lost when defending off the ball. He is good at coming up with steals and has improved his defensive rebounding to make up for the fact that he no longer attacks the offensive glass with the ferocity he once did.

THABO SEFOLOSHA, SG

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
5.4
3.0
1.3
.465
1.9

Scouting report
+ Elite stopper. Uses long arms to full effect, especially against smaller defenders.
+ Shot over 40 percent on 3-pointers the past two seasons. Big increase in attempts in '12-13.
+ Strictly a spot-up shooter on offense. Doesn't help much with ballhandling.

Analysis
Sefolosha has taken the long way to become a 3-and-D player. There was never any question about his ability at the defensive end, but Sefolosha was a poor outside shooter before improving to better than 40 percent from downtown each of the past two seasons. Maintaining that shooting for another year will allow Sefolosha to command a raise as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Like many specialists, Sefolosha has gravitated toward the corners. He shot 46.3 percent from there, per NBA.com/Stats, though also a respectable 37.1 percent from above the break. From either location, nearly all of Sefolosha's shots were set up by assists, which explains why he missed Westbrook so badly in the playoffs. Teams were able to contest more frequently and Sefolosha slipped to 31.6 percent from beyond the arc. He isn't capable of creating shots for himself off the dribble, so cutting off open 3s made him a non-factor on offense.

Scott Brooks had no choice but to keep Sefolosha on the floor because he's so valuable defensively. Long arms allow Sefolosha to play bigger than his height (6-foot-7) and match up with bigger, stronger wings. His wingspan is even more valuable against point guards who find their vision cut off. Sefolosha is a dedicated defender whose absence from the All-Defensive Team aside from a second-team selection in 2009-10 is hard to justify.

KEVIN DURANT, SF

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
28.4
7.0
4.1
.719
18.9

Scouting report
+ The NBA's premier scorer. Size and length allow him to get off any shot he wants.
+ Dramatically improved playmaker. Has tightened his shot selection over time.
+ Underrated defender. Excellent rebounder, allowing him to play the 4 in small lineups.

Analysis
With apologies to Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, Durant is the NBA's best scorer. Last season, Durant's combination of usage (he was responsible for 30 percent of the Thunder's plays) and true shooting percentage (a career-high .647) was historic. When combined based on the typical relationship between usage and efficiency, Durant's adjusted true shooting percentage of .696 was 30.2 percent better than league average -- the highest adjusted rating since the ABA-NBA merger.

Such a performance was no coincidence. A Sports Illustrated feature during the season revealed that Durant employs a specialist to analyze his performance using stats and video. Because Durant is so tall and long that he can always get off a clean shot, and such an accurate shooter, there are few shots that are truly bad for him. Instead, Durant was encouraged to focus on great shots at the expense of good ones, which helped fuel his improvement in setting up teammates. As impressive as Durant's efficiency is, seeing him turn into an unrepentant gunner in the playoffs with Westbrook sidelined was fascinating. Ultimately, both Durant's performance and Oklahoma City's suffered, justifying the evolution of his game.

Durant is such a good offensive player that it overshadows his development as a defender. He takes pride in his defense, and the same physical tools that make him unstoppable at the other end make him tricky to play against defensively. He blocked shots at a career-high rate and rebounds like a power forward, which allows the Thunder to go small and move him to the 4 without sacrificing anything on the glass.

SERGE IBAKA, PF

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
13.3
7.9
0.6
.589
8.9

Scouting report
+ Phenomenal weakside shot-blocker. Covers ground quickly and has good timing.
+ Expanded range last season. Could eventually be considered a stretch 4.
+ Subpar defensive rebounder. Not quite elite on defensive end overall.

Analysis
In his first season after signing a four-year, $49.4 million extension, Ibaka managed to increase his 3-point output by 1,900 percent. Yet his most impressive accomplishment during 2012-13 was still getting threatened by Stephen Jackson on Twitter (technically, he threatened "Serg Abaka") and living to tell the tale.

After extensive offseason work, Ibaka decided he was all about the 3-point shooting life. He came into the year with two career 3-pointers in six attempts, but went 20-of-57 from downtown. Ibaka's rapid improvement as a shooter and his accuracy just inside the arc (47.0 percent from 16-23 feet, per Hoopdata.com) offer the notion that he might eventually become a feared 3-point shooter, opening up the paint for his teammates. Ibaka remains effective in the paint; he is a threat on the offensive glass and finished nearly 78 percent of his attempts at the rim.

For the second consecutive season, Ibaka led the NBA in blocks per game. His rate of blocked shots dropped by nearly a quarter (from 9.8 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts to 7.4) -- and that's probably a good thing, as it indicates Ibaka is making better choices defensively. He also fouled less frequently and the Thunder's team defense improved. In part because he's a poor rebounder, Ibaka doesn't yet merit the All-Defensive First Team appearances he has made the last two seasons. Another year of improvement might get him to that point.

KENDRICK PERKINS, C

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
4.2
5.6
1.2
.308
-3.8

Scouting report
+ Possibly the NBA's worst offensive player. A turnover threat any time he touches the ball.
+ Quality post defender with better help instincts than he gets credit for having.
+ Struggles defending on the perimeter. Can be exposed by bad matchups.

Analysis
Let's get this out of the way: No, Oklahoma City is not going to use its amnesty clause on Perkins. GM Sam Presti made that clear in his postseason news conference while coming to Perkins' defense. The scowling big man saw his stock plummet to an all-time low after posting an unthinkable -0.7 PER during the Thunder's playoff run. During the regular season, Perkins wasn't nearly that bad. He was part of a starting lineup that outscored opponents by 12.3 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com/Stats, so obviously Perkins was doing something right. Westbrook's absence made it much harder for Oklahoma City to survive a non-scorer in the starting five, shining a harsh spotlight on Perkins.

Certainly, Perkins could help his own cause by no longer demanding a ceremonial post-up early in games that seems more likely to result in a turnover than a shot attempt. Per Synergy Sports, Perkins averaged just 0.638 points per play in the post as compared to the Thunder's overall average of 0.956 points per play in the half court. Perkins' lack of lift has robbed him of the few offensive contributions he provided pre-2010 ACL tear. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Perkins was the only player in the league to make less than 75 percent of his dunk attempts (minimum 20 attempts). He shot just 67.6 percent (25 of 37) on dunks.

Despite getting abused by the Memphis frontcourt in the playoffs, Perkins remains a contributor at the defensive end. He's a good post defender and underrated in terms of providing help. Perkins gets in trouble when he's forced to the perimeter, exposing his limited mobility. That's much more common in a playoff setting than during the regular season, when game planning is more limited.

RESERVES

REGGIE JACKSON, PG

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
8.3
2.9
3.0
.456
1.6

Scouting report
+ Good pick-and-roll point guard. Has ability to penetrate and finish.
+ Shot high percentage from college 3-point line, but has struggled with NBA distance.
+ Solid defender at the point. Applies pressure on the ball. Big enough to defend some 2s.

Analysis
Westbrook's tough break was Jackson's big break. Before the playoffs, Jackson had played 30 minutes in a game once in his career. With the whole world watching, he averaged 33.5 minutes in the postseason. Though the Thunder stumbled as an offense, Jackson held his own and set himself up for more playing time this season. Kevin Martin's departure means Jackson will play frequently alongside Westbrook in a backcourt where either player can initiate the offense or score.

In many ways, Jackson's attacking mentality is similar to Westbrook's. He's not nearly as freakish the athlete, which leaves him more dependent on the pick-and-roll to create openings to drive. Jackson is superior to Westbrook as a finisher; he made 74.2 percent of his attempts at the rim, per Basketball-Reference.com. Since he will play more off the ball this season, Jackson could stand to improve his outside shooting. He hit 42.0 percent of his 3s during his final season at Boston College and is solid on long 2-pointers (38.5 percent from 16-23 feet), but that hasn't translated beyond the arc, where Jackson has shot 22.3 percent in his NBA career.

Oklahoma City defended slightly better in the playoffs than in the regular season, and while that might have partially been out of desperation, it also reflects Jackson's defensive ability. He's got ideal size and strength to match up with point guards and enough to handle smaller 2s. Jackson pressured the ball more than Westbrook, though he came up with relatively few steals. He was excellent on the defensive glass, which was surprising giving his fairly average track record as a rebounder.

NICK COLLISON, PF

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
4.5
4.0
1.4
.383
-1.0

Scouting report
+ Intelligent defensive player. Relies on being in the right spot and willingness to take charges.
+ Also capable of matching up individually both in the post or on the perimeter.
+ Knows his limitations on offense. Only takes makeable shots around the basket.

Analysis
Of the eight players who have spent the past 10 seasons with the same franchise, six are multitime All-Stars. The role player exceptions are Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat and Collison, who has survived a franchise move and five coaches to remain a valuable contributor off the bench. Nearing his 33rd birthday in October, Collison has managed to adjust his game to avoid dropping off as he ages.

The strength of Collison's game is at the defensive end, where he understands the game as well as anyone in the league. He has a tremendous knack for being in the right position defensively and the Oklahoma City defense has consistently been better with him on the floor. Collison also excels at defending the pick-and-roll and is capable of matching up one-on-one with a variety of different players. He can go from checking Dirk Nowitzki one night to battling Zach Randolph in the post the next. The one negative for Collison on defense is his tendency to get in foul trouble, part of the reason he didn't claim more of Perkins' minutes in the playoffs.

At the other end, Collison is a choosy shooter who increased his usage rate last season -- all the way to 11.5 percent of the Thunder's plays. The strategy pays off in high shooting percentages. When he does pull the trigger from the perimeter, Collison is a reliable midrange shooter. He's also a good passer for the position whose assist rate in 2012-13 was a career high.

JEREMY LAMB, SG

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
10.0
3.2
1.9
.461
1.9

Scouting report
+ Lanky wing with scoring mentality. Can fill it up when he gets going.
+ Must add NBA 3-point range. More comfortable from about 20 feet.
+ Lacks defensive mindset. Needs to play harder and stay focused on assignment.

Analysis
The main prize of the return for James Harden, Lamb now has the chance to step into the sixth man role formerly occupied by Harden and more recently Kevin Martin. As a rookie, Lamb saw far more action in the D-League (689 minutes) than with Oklahoma City (147). He was effective with the Tulsa 66ers, averaging 23.0 points per 36 minutes, then won MVP honors at the Orlando Pro Summer League with 18.8 PPG.

In case it wasn't already clear from the first paragraph, Lamb can score. The issue is doing so efficiently. He can't fall in love with a 3-point shot that is only average (35.2 percent in the D-League) and has to remember to attack the basket -- especially because he shoots nearly 90 percent from the free throw line. Lamb does have the ability to find teammates, a nice bonus for a high-scoring sixth man.

Lamb's playing time will be predicated on his ability to get up to speed defensively. He's long and lanky, which can be an asset in the right matchup but also leaves him vulnerable to stronger, more experienced opponents. Lamb's defensive effort has been inconsistent, and the Thunder coaching staff will stay on him to remain active and attentive.

HASHEEM THABEET, C

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
2.1
2.5
0.2
.391
-0.3

Scouting report
+ Former Memphis bust started over as credible backup center in Oklahoma City.
+ 7-foot-3 size makes him a defensive presence in the paint. Improved footwork.
+ Mechanical with basketball. Highly prone to turnovers.

Analysis
After washing out in Memphis, Houston and (briefly) Portland, former No. 2 overall pick Thabeet landed in Oklahoma City as a project who yielded some immediate returns. Thabeet was in and out of the rotation as the team's fourth big man and saw some action in the playoffs, where he was just as effective as starter Perkins. Unfortunately, that means he also posted a -0.7 PER.

At a glance, Thabeet's defensive potential is obvious. Since Yao Ming's retirement, he has been the league's tallest player at 7-foot-3. Thabeet is a very good shot-blocker, which doesn't automatically make him a very good defender. In the past, teams were able to draw him away from the basket and use his lack of mobility against him. The Thunder coaching staff worked hard to improve Thabeet's footwork to make him less vulnerable, and the team defended much better with him on the court. In fact, the 94.6 defensive rating Oklahoma City posted with Thabeet on the floor was the second lowest for any player on any team behind only the Grizzlies' Tony Allen (94.3).

The offensive end is a different story. Oklahoma City used Thabeet more frequently in pick-and-rolls than in past stops, and he finishes well around the basket. Last season's 60.4 percent shooting on 2-pointers was a career high. That overstates Thabeet's value because he frequently turns the ball over when he handles it, or on illegal screens. Because Thabeet can't play away from the basket, his presence on the floor hurts the team's spacing.

STEVEN ADAMS, C

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
1.3
1.2
0.2
.434
0.2

Scouting report
+ Raw, athletic center with limited high-level experience. Improved as college season went on.
+ Plus rebounder and shot-blocker. Especially dangerous on offensive glass.
+ Good touch around the basket. Terrible free throw shooter.

Analysis
Averages of 7.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game don't exactly scream lottery pick, but advanced stats had a more positive view of Adams' lone season at Pittsburgh. He was one of the nation's better shot-blockers and offensive rebounders and made 57.1 percent of his 2-point attempts. Adams maintained and even improved his performance against a tough Big East schedule. He might be ready enough to take some of Hasheem Thabeet's minutes as backup center away late this season, though the Thunder clearly made him the first Kiwi drafted in the lottery (for that matter, the first round) with an eye toward the future.

At times, Adams can look mechanical. He's actually a good athlete for his size (an even 7 feet with shoes at the pre-draft combine) and should be able to create some opportunities in transition. Eventually, Adams could be a threat as a roll man. He's got good hands and a soft touch around the basket. For now, most of Adams' scoring will probably come as a finisher and on putbacks. His post-up game is rudimentary. Adams will have to improve at the line after making 44.3 percent of his free throws at Pitt.

While his body hasn't entirely filled out, Adams is already strong and doesn't mind physical play in the paint. (He credits that to playing rugby growing up.) His block rate ranked seventh among major-conference players. The biggest challenge for Adams will be learning to defend the pick-and-roll on a regular basis.

DEREK FISHER, PG

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
1.0
0.3
0.5
.319
-0.8

Scouting report
+ Strictly a spot-up shooter on offense at this point in his career. Got hot during playoffs.
+ Not a defensive liability because of ability to take -- and exaggerate -- contact.
+ Fares better matching up against bigger players than quicker opponents.

Analysis
As the 2012-13 season began, Fisher was still looking for a new NBA team after helping the Thunder to the 2012 NBA Finals. He joined the Dallas Mavericks in late November only to ask for his release four weeks later for family reasons. That left Fisher free to return to Oklahoma City after third point guard Eric Maynor was traded to Portland at the deadline. Ineffective the rest of the regular season, Fisher took on a much larger role after Westbrook's injury in the playoffs and shot 47.1 percent from beyond the arc. He's back for an 18th season in the role of third point guard and veteran leader.

Approximately 60 percent of Fisher's shots in a Thunder uniform came from beyond the arc. While he can still put the ball on the floor to attack overzealous closeouts, Fisher is basically a standstill jump-shooter at this point in his career. As a point guard, Fisher simply initiates the offense and then spots up. His assist rate was the lowest of his career and average for a shooting guard. While Fisher's 3-point percentage has fluctuated during the regular season, he's consistently been more effective during the playoffs.

As slow as he looks at times on defense, Fisher remains a competent defender. He's much more effective using his strength to defend bigger shooting and can play through off-ball screens. Fisher tends to struggle against smaller, quicker point guards who can simply beat him off the dribble.

PERRY JONES, SF

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
1.1
0.7
0.1
.358
-0.3

Scouting report
+ Flashed potential during preseason, but spent most of year in D-League.
+ Athletic tease who was unable to convert hype into production in college.
+ Versatile player who needs to find what he does well and stick to it.

Analysis
By the time he fell to the 28th pick of the 2012 draft, Jones had too much potential for the Thunder to pass even though he didn't fill an obvious need. When Jones played well last preseason, it looked like Oklahoma City might have had a steal, but he barely saw the court once the regular season started and was ineffective in his rare action.

The 15 games Jones played in the D-League were similar to his college career. Jones was active but not particularly efficient. He made just 46.6 percent of his 2-point attempts, which is far too low for a player as athletic as Jones. He needs to focus on what he does well and eliminate the rest. Consider outside shooting in the latter category; Jones was 5-of-17 from 3-point range in the D-League. As a power forward, Jones should be quick enough to face up and beat opponents off the dribble. Do that and finish at the rim and the Thunder will be happy.

Given his athletic gifts, Jones doesn't make much of an impact in the box score at the defensive end. He's a poor defensive rebounder and only average in terms of coming up with steals and blocks. Jones' length could make him a premier defender if he puts his mind to it.

ANDRE ROBERSON, PF

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
1.3
1.3
0.2
.456
0.4

Scouting report
+ Undersized college 4 who might have to play on the wing as a professional.
+ Energetic, athletic defender. One of the NCAA's best rebounders.
+ Struggled on the perimeter in college. OK outside shooter. Not comfortable handling the ball.

Analysis
Insider's WARP projections rated Roberson, an undersized power forward from Colorado projected to go in the second round, the No. 3 prospect in this year's draft because of his elite rebound, steal and block rates. Apparently the Thunder used a similar model, because Oklahoma City traded up three spots to take Roberson No. 26 overall. He provided more of the same at the Orlando Pro Summer League, averaging 8.0 rebounds in just 24.5 minutes per game.

The Pac-12's Defensive Player of the Year, Roberson is something of a smaller version of Kenneth Faried at the defensive end. He was one of the NCAA's best defensive rebounders, and his ability to pile up both blocks and steals is rare. He joined a group that includes Faried, Danny Granger and Renaldo Balkman (among others) with translated college rates of more than two steals and blocks per 100 plays. While Roberson primarily defended the paint at Colorado, he's got enough athleticism to match up with wings in the NBA.

The likely transition to small forward will be more challenging for Roberson on offense. His efficiency sank last season in part because he spent more time on the wing in preparation for the NBA. Roberson has some shooting range -- he made 19 3-pointers each of the last two seasons -- but isn't a confident ball handler or playmaker. His ability to master those skills will determine how quickly he challenges for minutes.

DANIEL ORTON, C

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
0.0
0.0
0.0
.437
--

Scouting report
+ Spent most of last season in D-League. Has limited NBA experience three seasons into career.
+ Has good footwork for his size. Improved at defending pick-and-roll.
+ Not much of a threat on offense. Has limited range.

Analysis
An Oklahoma City native, Orton came home last summer as a camp invitee. The Harden trade cleared a spot for him on the roster and Orton signed a three-year contract with the last two seasons (2013-14 and 2014-15) fully unguaranteed. That leaves him potentially vulnerable to the roster crunch after spending most of his first year with the Thunder down in the D-League.

Three years after leaving Kentucky, Orton still has only 291 NBA minutes to his credit, making it difficult to get a read on his development. He served mostly as a screener for the Thunder, and even with the Tulsa 66ers his usage rate was barely better than average. Orton has consistently shown an ability to get to the free throw line, where he's a 47.6 percent career shooter in the NBA but made 67.5 percent in his larger D-League sample.

Orlando drafted Orton in the first round because he moves well for his size, and last season he showed development as a pick-and-roll defender. Orton has long arms and averaged 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes in Tulsa. Foul trouble remains an issue for him.

RYAN GOMES, SF

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
0.7
0.4
0.1
.358
-0.3

Scouting report
+ Tweener forward whose game has steadily drifted to the perimeter.
+ Only average 3-point shooter. Has little value when 3s aren't falling.
+ Creates mismatches for his own team defending either forward position.

Analysis
Waived by the Clippers with the amnesty provision last summer, Gomes found little interest from the NBA and spent the season playing in Germany. He averaged 12.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Artland Dragons. The Thunder signed Gomes to a one-year minimum contract in August, albeit with limited guaranteed money, and DeAndre Liggins' arrest and subsequent release figures to clear a spot on the roster for him."

When last we saw Gomes, he was wildly ineffective for the Clippers after the lockout. He entered the league out of Providence as a physical, undersized power forward. Over time, Gomes lost the ability to play in the paint and became dependent on his jumper. When he shot 4-of-29 from beyond the arc in 2011-12, the bottom fell out. Even before that, Gomes rated no better than replacement level the previous three seasons. As his athleticism declines, Gomes has increasingly had difficulty defending on the perimeter at 6-foot-7, 245. That's not big enough for him to match up with post players, and Gomes has been a poor rebounder by small forward standards.

ALEX ABRINES, SG

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
0.0
0.0
0.0
.396
--

Scouting report
+ Talented young player competing against much older veterans at Europe's highest levels.
+ Frequent, but thus far inaccurate, 3-point shooter. Must improve shot selection.
+ Good size for his position. Needs to fill out frame.

Analysis
The Thunder drafted Abrines, who turned 20 in August, with the second pick of the second round. He isn't ready to come to the NBA, and won't be for a few years, but could be a Rudy Fernandez-type player as he develops. As a teenager, Abrines was part of the rotation for a Barcelona team that reached the Euroleague semifinals and won the prestigious Spanish Copa del Rey.

At this point, Abrines is an inefficient scorer because he attempts a ton of 3-pointers (7.2 per 36 minutes in Euroleague play) and only makes them around a 30 percent clip. As he improves his accuracy and becomes more selective, Abrines could be a dangerous perimeter threat with solid playmaking chops for a shooting guard. He's tall for the position and should fill out and add strength over time.

GRANT JERRETT, PF

Pelton's 2013-14 Projections
PPG
RPG
APG
WIN %
WARP
Player card »
0.0
0.0
0.0
.419
--

Scouting report
+ Top prospect who got buried during single season at Arizona and decided to turn pro.
+ Stretch 4 with surprising athleticism for player of his ilk.
+ Long wingspan helps him contest shots on defense. Awful rebounder.

Analysis
Jerrett was one of a pair of top-15 power forwards signed by Arizona last season. He lost the starting job to the other newcomer, Brandon Ashley, and found himself somewhat buried. With an even better forward prospect (likely 2014 lottery pick Aaron Gordon) on the way, Jerrett wanted out and decided to take his chances in the draft rather than sitting a season out as a transfer. The Thunder acquired him in the second round and sent him overseas to save roster space.

During the Orlando Pro Summer League, Jerrett showed his potential as a stretch 4. He made 10 of his 20 attempts from the NBA 3-point line. Jerrett shot 40.5 percent from the shorter college line and will probably spend most of his time on the perimeter. He was much less effective when he ventured inside at Arizona, making a dismal 41.3 percent of his 2-point attempts.

While the stereotypical big man who can shoot struggles defensively, Jerrett has the chance to be a plus defender. His wingspan, measured at 7-foot-2 at the pre-draft combine, makes him a shot-blocking threat. Jerrett also has ample athletic ability to defend on the perimeter as he adds experience. Those positives don't extend to the glass, where Jerrett projects to be about average -- for a small forward.


AmiableBaller34
AmiableBaller34's picture
Registered User
Joined: 04/16/2013
Posts: 273
Points: 687
Offline
Wait…people actually thought

Wait…people actually thought the Thunder would be better without Westbrook?

the I in win
the I in win's picture
Registered User
Joined: 11/28/2009
Posts: 2106
Points: 1522
Offline
I don't think people thought

I don't think people thought the Thunder would be better without him due to injury but rather if the Thunder traded him for another top level point guard who didn't take so many shots away from Durant.

Memphis Madness
Registered User
Joined: 03/30/2011
Posts: 2840
Points: -484
Offline
I feel like the Thunder are

I feel like the Thunder are flying under the radar more this year. People are talking about Dwight Howard going to the Rockets, the Bulls getting Rose back, and, of course, the Miami Heat. I think this should work in OKC's favor. They won't be burdened by being the top dog out West as everyone is saying that the West will be totally wild.

The Thunder still have a superstar one-two punch in Durant and Westbrook. Serge Ibaka is good. They aren't incredibly deep but Reggie Jackson should be a great 6th man this year with Nick Collison providing steady play as usual. Thabo and K Perk are decent, especially on defense. Jeremy Lamb is the X factor here. If he can step it up and provide scoring off the bench then the Thunder can get back to the Finals. I wouldn't count out Perry Jones just yet. Steven Adams and Hasheem Thabeet can give them some solid minutes at center, with Adams being a good athlete and Thabeet being an effective shot blocker and lane clogger.

I think the Thunder, Spurs, and Grizzlies are the favorites out West. Houston and Golden State are the wild cards. I think the Clippers will be up and down, but I don't think they have enough scorers inside and on the wing to make a huge run.

A healthy OKC Thunder can beat any team in the league.

Puregreen5
Registered User
Joined: 06/22/2011
Posts: 106
Points: 198
Offline
I can't wait to see what

I can't wait to see what Jeremy Lamb does, for OKC next season! He could become the starting SG, with time and a bit of added weight.

IndianaBasketball
IndianaBasketball's picture
Registered User
Joined: 05/09/2009
Posts: 12525
Points: 23375
Offline
I'm a little worried about

I'm a little worried about the Thunder, mainly due to Russell Westbrook's injury. I don't think people realize just how serious it was. His knee injury was as serious as Chris Paul's.

He tore his lateral meniscus back in April and STILL hasn't been cleared for basketball related activities five months later. That right there tells you that his tear was serious enough that it wasn't able to be repaired/sewn back together... It had to be trimmed/cut and completely removed. When meniscus tears are serious enough, you can also do some damage to your articular cartilage. Westbrook played with the injury, so that could've possibly did more damage. The reports are the Westbrook is even going to be limited in training camp.

I'm a little worried about him now and going forward. I'm more worried about Westbrook than Derrick Rose. Reason being is because you can replace an ACL, but you can't replace meniscus. Westbrook will be bone on bone there for the rest of his career, which means damage to the articular cartilage will continue to happen.

Cynthia
Cynthia's picture
Registered User
Joined: 07/20/2011
Posts: 688
Points: 4003
Offline
Worrybrook

I'm a little worried as well. I recently moved to Minnesota(go Wolves?) but I lived in Oklahoma before I moved and have not heard one word about Westbrook since the playoffs. This concerns me because it makes me think it's a lot worse than originally thought. If he was on the mend there would at least be some media attention on it, and getting us fans pumped for the next season, but instead it's been quiet...too quiet. Which makes me think it's not good and the Thunder staff are keeping it on the down-low as to not worry the fans.

IndianaBasketball
IndianaBasketball's picture
Registered User
Joined: 05/09/2009
Posts: 12525
Points: 23375
Offline
Russ is questionable for the

Russ is questionable for the opener. Reports are that he's suffered swelling of the knee in the last 24 hours. He's still not cleared for basketball activities/practice...

His meniscus tear had to be VERY bad. Where there's no meniscus, he's basically bone on bone there. Let's just hope that he doesn't need an arthroscopic procedure done... IF he does, I hope they don't wait too long to do it.

I hate to say it, BUT this is how it all started going downhill for Brandon Roy. He had a bad meniscus tear and then slowly started destroying his articular cartilage.

I feel for Russ.

BothTeamsPlayedHard
BothTeamsPlayedHard's picture
Registered User
Joined: 06/13/2008
Posts: 3377
Points: 4580
Offline
It is really difficult to

It is really difficult to compare knees and injuries in general. Certainly a second surgery is not ideal recovery, but it is easy to remember guys who were never the same and easy to forget those who return to "normal." Westbrook is no more likely to follow the path of Roy than he is to Metta, Andrew Bynum, Chase Budinger, Tyrus Thomas, Eric Bledsoe, Al Harrington, JR Smith, Blake Griffin, or the other hundred or so NBA guys who have had that injury.

What works in the Thunder's favor is that the regular season does not need to be that important anymore for them. They have won on the road in the playoffs. For both better and worse, they know what they are as a team. The urgency for him to come back and play 35 minutes a night should not be there. It won't be the end of the world if they go into the playoffs as a 2, 3, or 4-seed if it means Westbrook is healthy.

IndianaBasketball
IndianaBasketball's picture
Registered User
Joined: 05/09/2009
Posts: 12525
Points: 23375
Offline
Meniscus tears vary and so do

Meniscus tears vary and so do the surgical procedures to address them. However, if you listen to some of the details, you can figure a lot out.

There are reasons to be positive about Westbrook's situation. For one, his tear was to the lateral meniscus. That's where majority of the blood supply is. Two, he's young, which means he should have healthy meniscus tissue.

Here's why I'm concerned about Westbrook. Most meniscus tears (most of the players you mentioned above) take about 6-8 weeks to return from. That usually is an indication that a partial meniscectomy was done, which means that the tear was small and just removed. Based on Westbrook's recovery period, we know he didn't receive a partial meniscectomy. He was out 5 months and still wasn't cleared for basketball related activities. As a matter of fact (and this was before the swelling situation), the Thunder didn't even think he'd be ready for opening night. That means that 6 months would've past and he still wouldn't have been on the floor. The fact that his recovery period has been so long says that he received a meniscus repair instead of a partial meniscectomy. Repairs are usually done when the tear is severe/deep and the surgeon wants to try to save it first. It takes longer to recover from because the torn edges are tacked or sutured back together. Even with a repair though, it usually only takes 3-4 months to return to basketball activities.

Based on the fact Westbrook was on month 5 (on his way to month 6) and not being cleared... That told me there was a problem. Now, the GM is saying that the problem was a lose tack or staple. I doubt it lol. I personally think that his tear was too severe/deep for the repair to hold, which means that the next step will be to just remove the torn flap/piece. That means he'll be bone on bone in that part of his knee. Depending on how large that missing portion of his meniscus is, he could be facing serious arthritic issues going forward. When you wear out the articular cartilage on your bone, that's when surgeons start saying things like "micro-fracture surgery".

BothTeamsPlayedHard
BothTeamsPlayedHard's picture
Registered User
Joined: 06/13/2008
Posts: 3377
Points: 4580
Offline
I'm not arguing about

I'm not arguing about procedures or the numerous red flags you have pointed out. My only point of contention is that the condition (and accumulation of damage) of Brandon Roy's knees at the time of his meniscus tear is seemingly different from where Westbrook was at the time of his tear. No basketball player is going to have a pristine knee by the time he reaches the NBA because simply playing that much basketball takes its toll (and then each season adds more damage), but the severity of the damage certainly varies quite a bit even for guys in their early-to-mid 20s. I do not believe that the degree to which the pre-existing damage plays a role in the long-term success of Westbrook's recovery should be dismissed. In as much as I cannot claim to know the exact condition of Westbrook's knee at the time of the injury, I cannot believe it was the same as that of Roy given that he already had numerous knee surgeries dating back to high school.

Also, as I mentioned before, there is no urgency for Westbrook to return soon. Brandon Roy returned to play against Phoenix in the playoffs eight days after surgery. If there is more serious damage to that knee, as you seem to believe and make a good case for, isn't it better that it gets diagnosed and handled prior to him returning and accelerating the damage and deterioration?

gt1master_ike
Registered User
Joined: 09/23/2012
Posts: 5
Points: -1
Offline
waiting on that clippers

waiting on that clippers profile.

IndianaBasketball
IndianaBasketball's picture
Registered User
Joined: 05/09/2009
Posts: 12525
Points: 23375
Offline
Russell Westbrook out 4-6

Russell Westbrook out 4-6 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery...

Smh... I knew there was reason to be worried.

I now think Westbrook's injury is WORSE than Chris Paul's was. He's clearly suffered a meniscus tear so bad, that he's also done damage to his articular cartilage.

Feeling for him...

XYRYX
XYRYX's picture
Registered User
Joined: 08/10/2012
Posts: 583
Points: 1245
Offline
Damn this sucks so bad. I

Damn this sucks so bad. I really feel sorry for Russ since he put so much work into coming back for training camp. Still can't believe that this knee bump caused this much damage after he still played against Houston.

USA Today is reporting the following after Westbrook had swellings after workouts:
"During the procedure it was determined that the source of swelling was due to a loose stitch, and fortunately we were also able to confirm that the meniscus has healed properly."

This could be a major disadvantage for the Thunder until the end of 2013. He won't be used to play when he's ready. Maybe this is a chance for Reggie Jackson to earn a big role. I really hope they don't get of to a really bad start. No need to panic but this could be an uphill battle all season long and Durant has to be fantastic to make the Thunder relevant.

Freak injury and still getting worse... Daaaaaammmnn

IndianaBasketball
IndianaBasketball's picture
Registered User
Joined: 05/09/2009
Posts: 12525
Points: 23375
Offline
It's possible that he damaged

It's possible that he damaged the knee even more by finishing the game after the injury occurred.

I'm just not buying that it's a "loose stitch". I had a feeling he was having issues before training camp even started because it doesn't typically take that long to heal from a meniscus injury unless it's a significant tear that isn't able to be repaired (sewn back together)... Instead it was completely cut out and removed. And where there is no meniscus, you're bone on bone.

Anton123
Anton123's picture
Registered User
Joined: 06/21/2009
Posts: 1372
Points: 2806
Offline
TJ Warren lost 22 pounds and

TJ Warren lost 22 pounds and Tyler Lewis gained 15 pounds. It's very rare to see a college forward intentionally lose lots of weight, TJ Warren is down to 218, which is a little low for a SF if you ask me.

Does anyone think anything about this? What are your expectations from Lewis and Warren? Both ar ecoming off an okay season for freshmen.

Siggy
Registered User
Joined: 02/25/2012
Posts: 2926
Points: 5208
Offline
I think it's good for Warren.

I think it's good for Warren. He was good last yr for a frosh but looked a little soft physically. He likely didn't lose muscle mass. He just trimmed the baby fat and got down to a base weight that he can build on later. If the weight loss results in improved agility, it's a definite boost to his stock since one of the bigger question marks surrounding his game was his lateral quickness and ability to defend wings.

RSS: Syndicate content