The Thunder are locked and loaded heading into next season, and hopefully, healthy. They boast more talent than nearly any other franchise, and with Enes Kanter's situation resolved, they approach training camp looking to rebound from last year's disappointment. There is only one big question left for new coach Billy Donovan. Who starts at shooting guard?
Here are the candidates:
Chance for him to start is slim, but the good news is that Waiters has got used to contributing off the bench.
In his three years as a pro, Waiters has never started more than half of the games in a season. Even back to his college days at Syracuse, he was best known as a key reserve, earning the Best East Sixth Man of the Year award in his sophomore season.
Waiters does not have to make to the starting roster to boost his team. On the contrary, what the Thunder wants to see most is him coming alive off the bench.
Waiters needs the ball as an offensive player, which discounts his value when the Thunder adds him as a third ball handler besides Durant and Westbrook. However, Waiter’s value kicks in when OKC rests either Durant or Westbrook. While he has been criticized for poor shot selections, he has a noticeable ability to score off the dribble. And hopefully the pounds he lost adds more athleticism. The scoring mentality and athleticism will be his assets next season coming off the bench when he has more control of the ball.
Roberson holds the key to playing in a starting roster filled with offensive power as he has a defense-first mentality. With that mentality, he started 65 of his 67 games played in his second season with the Thunder.
This May, Roberson made a statement of seeing himself becoming the best defender in the league. Bold as the statement was, Roberson has the potential. Last season, he held his opponent to 37.7 percent shooting, 4.3 percent less than what they normally shoot, according to NBA.com. By comparison, the stat of the resigning Defensive Player of the Year winner Kawhi Leonard was 0.4 percent.
He can stifle some of the most dynamic players at the guard position. That makes him a solid fit to the Thunder’s backcourt.
A league-leading three-point shooter, Morrow has a higher shooting percentage (42.9) than Danny Green (42.0) and Klay Thompson (41.8) in his career. The Thunder needs someone to knock down open three-pointers when Durant or Westbrook kicks the ball out and Morrow is the one to count on.
Although Morrow did not start a game last season with OKC, he managed to average double digits (10.7) with sinking nearly two three-pointers (1.9) per game. High as his shooting percentage seems, Morrow has to deal with his problem of inconsistency. But if he overcomes that, his shooting touch is one of the smoothest weapon, not only on the team but in the whole league.
The three shooting guards all have their irreplaceable value to the team. A starting spot matters much less than the performance in clutch for the Thunder. Last season when injury sidelined Durant, Westbrook, while putting on monstrous numbers, cannot lead OKC to more victories with the lack of helpers. Now the Thunder has retained Enes Kanter and will (hopefully) see a healthy roster from the beginning of the new season. If the three sidekicks maximize their assets, the Thunder can make a storm in the wild Western Conference.
Who do you think should start? Vote and comment below!