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2008 NBA Draft Kit: Oklahoma City Thunder Preview

October 16, 2008 | By Daniel Olson | comment on this post

We continue the 2008-09 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit with more team previews, today with Daniel checking in on his former hometown team the Seattle Sonics, er, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It pains me to even write about The Artist Formerly Known As the Seattle Supersonics, so don’t be alarmed if I only refer to the Thunder from here on out as TAFKA Sonics. That being said, this team might have more young talent than anyone in the league, corralling in five young players via the 2008 draft led by UCLA guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has a chance to take over the point after TAFKA Sonics traded former starting point guard Luke Ridnour to Milwaukee in a three-team deal which saw Joe Smith and former Oklahoma State Cowboy Desmond Mason come to the team.

Another move after the draft saw TAFKA Sonics acquire the 38th overall pick in the draft, Kyle Weaver from the Charlotte Bobcats. Weaver was a versatile swingman at Washington State, helping lead his Cougars to two straight NCAA appearances following a 13-year drought.

Needless to say, this team will once again not be very good this year. It has an immense amount of young talent and another plethora of draft picks for the 2009 draft, but TAFKA Sonics still will struggle mightily despite a much needed year of experience for 2007 first round lottery picks Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG: Earl Watson
SG: Kevin Durant
SF: Jeff Green
PF: Chris Wilcox
C: Nick Collison

Key Bench Players: Damien Wilkins, Westbrook, Mason, Smith, Johan Petro.

Position Battles

Just about every position on TAFKA Sonics will be up for grabs minus the shooting guard spot where Durant is the franchise player and has that locked down. Watson has shown flashes of being a capable point guard, but is also very streaky from the outside, shooting 37 per cent from downtown last season. First rounder Westbrook didn’t actually play point guard in college as his teammate at UCLA, Darren Collison, handled those duties, but regardless he should fight strongly for the spot throughout the season.

Mason and Green are two nearly identical players which makes one think the trade for Mason was only to satisfy the hometown fans as he went to school in Oklahoma.

Stud: There is a stud on TAFKA Sonics? Okay, how about Durant? After the All Star break, his numbers improved significantly as his shooting percentage went up (47.6 per cent) and he stopped hoisting up three pointers like a fat kid in a YMCA game. He is also a terrific free throw shooter at 87.3 per cent which could in turn mean his field goal percentage will only keep increasing.

Dud: Clay Bennett. Okay, I’m just kidding (but not really). I think you have to put all 18 TAFKA Sonics centres drafted over the last five years here. You have Petro, Robert Swift, Mouhamed Sene, and the newly drafted 18-year-old Serge Ibaka. The best part is GM Sam Presti actually re-signed Swift in the offseason! The three returning centres in Sene, Swift, and Petro have shown little to nothing in their tenures, and don’t expect any difference this season.

Sleeper: Weaver could be a fantasy factor for TAFKA Sonics with his defensive prowess. He can handle the ball well, and is a threat to steal two-to-three balls a game. Sure this is a biased pick since I am from the Northwest and follow the Cougars like a 21-year-old frat boy who follows a MILF, but who else am I supposed to say here? TAFKA Sonics are composed of a bunch of 20-something kids that are excited to be making a fat paycheque while playing for a team known as the “Thunder.”

Rookies to watch: Westbrook could claim the starting point guard position by the beginning of December seeing how bad TAFKA Sonics will be.

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