Basketball is back! Sort of.
Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (o-0) vs. Houston Rockets (0-0)
Time: 7:00 PM Central Daylight Time
Place: The State Farm Arena, Hidalgo, Texas
TV: Comcast Sports Net Houston
Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1)
Enemy Blog(s): The Dream Shake, Clutch Fans, Red94
Previous Meeting(s): None.
Basketball is back! Sort of.
Yeah, one of the great things about the lockout was how the pre-season was really short. I honestly don't even remember it. But here we are, back in October, forced to sit through 3 weeks of meaningless basketball. Woe is us!
But, don't fret, because there's actually some intrigue to be had with this game. On the Thunder's side of things, Kendrick Perkins will be out rehabbing and injury, leaving Cole Aldrich as the starter. With Nazr Mohammed now gone to the Bulls, the Thunder will be forced to turn to Hasheem Thabeet, and Daniel Orton for minutes at backup center, assuming Nick Collison stays benched. It will be the first time we'll see any of them get semi-serious on the floor, so we could start to see how the rotation will pan out.
On the point guard front, it looks like a position battle is starting to take shape between Reggie Jackson and Eric Maynor. Jackson was replaced by Fisher last season, but reports have been coming in that he's progressing and actually might be able to challenge the orchestrator for minutes. I doubt one of them would see minutes at shooting guard, so somebody has to lose.
There's also the much hyped rookie, Perry Jones the third, who the Thunder snagged with the 28th pick. He was originally slated to be a lottery level talent, but tests found that his knee was prone to injury, so he fell down the board. Fans say that he's the next DeJuan Blair, but detractors say that he's not good enough to play small forward and not willing to play power forward.
There's also a battle for the 15th roster spot likely to go down between Hollis Thompson, Daniel Orton, Andy Rautins, and DeAndre Liggins. This one will be harder to judge, since I doubt we'll see too much time from them in the pre-season. But, here's what you need to know. Thompson is an undrafted rookie swingman from Georgetown, left out of the draft due to injury concerns. Andy Rautins is a Canadian national team member and likes to shoot lots of threes. Daniel Orton is a big man went to Bishop McGuiness and is from the OKC metro area, but he was recently released from the Magic, who need some serious help down low. Lastly, DeAndre Liggins is a former Magic guard who is known from solid defense and an extremely streaky shot.
As far as the Rockets go, there's definitely stories to be had. They've had a total re-tooling during the off-season, with their most notable signing being last year's surprising superstar, Jeremy Lin. Omer Asik will likely see his first time starting at center, and they have three rookies in Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, and Donatas Motiejunas that could all make a splash.
But, most intriguing of all is that if the Rockets do abysmally and Kevin McHale gets fired, former Sooners head coach Kelvin Sampson could get the interim job! Booyah!
So, are you hyped for the game yet? ARE YOU READY?!
Well, it's only the pre-season. So calm down! But, enjoy the ride while you can.
Prediction: Houston Rockets 98, Oklahoma City Thunder 94