We kick off our new mailbag feature with some great questions. Check it out!
Q1: Why do you think the Thunder hasn't signed a mid-level player?
-thomasjustice, SB Nation
This is a question I'm sure every Thunder fan has in their mind. If you look at the loss of Kevin Martin, we lose our Sixth Man for the second season in a row. If you look at possible players we were rumored to sign with the Thunder, Dorell Wright and Mike Miller who could've filled that Sixth Man role, decided to pursue a different path, signing with different teams. What's next? I wouldn't be surprised to see the Thunder to make an offer towards a player like Stephen Jackson or Richard "Rip" Hamilton.
Back to the question, why do I think we haven't signed anybody? It's due to very little moving space, meaning money. Having franchise players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook takes up some money, and not being able to offer good money to a great bench player like Mike Miller isn't going to get you far. So as of now, the sixth man role is probably one for either Derek Fisher or Jeremy Lamb, two guys I personally am not comfortable with playing that role.
Q2: Which other team do you think improved the most this offseason and which team do you think will give OKC the most trouble this upcoming season?
-J.A. Sherman, Welcome To Loud City
I mixed these two questions into one because they have the same answer. Although I believe the Thunder are still the number one seed in the West this upcoming season, I see the Golden State Warriors becoming the biggest threat. With Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes becoming second-year players, I think they're roles and maturity shoot sky high, along with their potential. No, I didn't forget about their star point guard, Stephen Curry, the best three-point shooter in the NBA, along with one the most fun players to watch.
And how did I almost forget about the addition of Andre Iguodala, the high-flying, fast-running, playmaker that makes the Warriors the Highlight Reel of the Western Conference?
Two other teams that could give the Thunder a lot of trouble are the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies, the two teams the Thunder saw in the Playoffs this past season. Starting off with the Rockets, the starting five will likely be:
PG - Jeremy Lin
SG - James Harden
SF - Chandler Parsons
PF - Donatas Motiejunas
C - Dwight Howard
That's a powerful group of guys, lead by All-Stars James Harden and Dwight Howard. With the addition of Howard, the Rockets are now one of the best teams in the West.
When it comes to Memphis, they just added Mike Miller, one of the top shots in the league. With the signing of Miller, joining guys like Mike Conley, Quincy Pondexter, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol makes them one of the powerhouse teams in not only the West, but the NBA as a whole. It's nice to see a lot of competition in the Western Conference this year, along with knowing the Thunder are one of the top teams.
Q3: What should the Thunder do about their crowded backup center position?
-dasoonerman, SB Nation
This is a good question. Obviously Kendrick Perkins will take the lead role, but when it comes to a backup it is honestly anyone's position to win. The candidates are Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton, and Steven Adams, the first round pick from this year.
Breaking down Adams, he will likely play most of this season in the Development League for the Tulsa 66ers, as most rookies do for the Thunder.
For Daniel Orton, he had an extremely impressive campaign in the Orlando Summer League, running the pick & roll very nicely over the time of the league. He proved the fact that he's able to score and post up the way he should. Another D-League stint wouldn't be surprising for Orton for this season, either.
When it comes to the backup, I'd go with the same backup as last season, and that is Hasheem Thabeet. The reason he didn't see the floor much is because the Thunder are stacked with big men, including power forwards Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison who can each play both PF and C. As a backup, Thabeet's role will most likely be the same or very similar to what it was last season, bringing quality minutes off of the bench and providing a couple points and boards as the big three underneath are getting a rest.
Q4: Who will have the better season, Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant?
-Victor Hensley, Baltimore Beat Down
I'm not sure which way to break this down as a better season, whether it's points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, minutes, etc. I think Kevin Durant is the better player and more important player, but I think Russell Westbrook is underrated because he does bring a twenty point game on a regular basis. My answer is Kevin Durant because he's always one of, if not the top scorer in the league. He's an aggressive player so a double-double can happen any moment, along with a triple-double if Durant is in a generous mood.
Will Russell Westbrook come back as normal as usual right away? No, I don't believe so, so that's a dilemma to how he will be performing in the beginning of the season. It most likely will not be long until Westbrook will be performing like he usually does, which will be an exciting day.
Kevin Durant will have the better season, as I stated before, because he makes more of the difference, the team depends on his performance more than they depend on Westbrook's. If you look at previous years, Durant has always out-performed Westbrook, and I think he can do it again this upcoming season.
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