The Oklahoma City Thunder will look like a different team next season, as they lost Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers and traded Russell Westbrook away to the Houston Rockets.
While it may seem like they don’t have enough to make a playoff push on the surface, they have a much better team than most people think, and if they can stay healthy, could mess around and slide to the 8th seed.
Besides stacking a lot of future picks, the Thunder now have some interesting young assets for the rebuild, and could even try to move Chris Paul to get more prospects.
But how will they line up to start the season? Let’s break it down:
Bench: Dennis Schroder, Terrance Ferguson, Hamidou Diallo, Darius Bazley, Abdel Nader, Mike Muscala, Nerlens Noel
Point Guard: Chris Paul
It’s safe to say that Chris Paul is no longer a top 5 point guard in the league at this stage of his career, but he is still more than capable of making a huge impact on both ends of the floor when healthy.
There are a lot of rumors that claim the Thunder will only showcase Paul until they find a trade partner willing to take a gamble on his salary but, if not, he can lead them to a playoff push, even in the Western Conference.
Shooting Guard: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander showed glimpses of an incredibly talented two-way combo guard during his days with the Los Angeles Clippers, and he has the tools to be this team’s leader once Paul is traded or retired.
Gilgeous-Alexander is long enough to guard multiple positions and has top-tier defensive instincts and awareness. He’s an unselfish facilitator and a solid rebounder but needs to put some work in on his jump shot.
Small Forward: Andre Roberson
It’s been a while since Andre Roberson last played in the NBA, but if he’s able to come back as fast and as strong as before suffering his injury, the Thunder will have one of the best defenders in the world night in and night out.
Roberson can lockdown opposing guards or small forwards, fights between screens, and even holds his own against bigger power forward. Sadly, that’s pretty much it for him, as he’s not a reliable scorer even from the free-throw line.
Power Forward: Danilo Gallinari
There has never been a single doubt about Danilo Gallinari’s talent and scoring ability, but his proneness to getting hurt has stalled his career and it seems like he might never going to stay healthy for a full season.
Still, when able to suit up, Gallinari is a walking bucket, and a much better defender people credit him for. He’s big enough to play the four and has a sweet shooting stroke that could help this team hide Roberson on the offensive end.
Center: Steven Adams
Steven Adams gave up a lot of rebounds to help Russell Westbrook get his triple-doubles, so we expect his rebounding numbers to go way up this season now that the Brodie has packed his bags.
Adams is one of the best pick-and-roll defenders in the league and Chris Paul is going to feed him a lot thanks to his ability to finish with both hands. He’s a solid rim-runner, and Paul has already brought the best out of DeAndre Jordan and Clint Capela.