This year may have been the most vital preseason the Thunder have had since the days when Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Jeff Green and Serge Ibaka were young blooming stars entering this league, just learning to play together. Now the landscape is different, but the principle remains the same.
There are seven new faces on the Thunder this year following a rough offseason so it’s up to Billy Donovan and Russell Westbrook to rebuild this team in almost every aspect.
There’s been growth during the preseason and there are three things that I’ve noticed in particular.
This is something that we haven’t been able to say consistently in past years for Oklahoma City but there’s a clear motivation on the defensive end. The addition of Victor Oladipo may have been the motivation Russell Westbrook needed to utilize his full potential on that end of the floor consistently.
This team is also a lot quicker on the ball and they aren’t leaving the back door open as frequently as they used to. Enes Kanter is even showing some signs of life on the defensive end of the ball.
The ball is definitely flowing a lot better with this new look Thunder team #NoShotsFired
— Travis Singleton (@SneakerReporter) October 19, 2016
Couldn’t have said it better. Don’t get me wrong, losing Kevin Durant wasn’t a good thing, but the offensive flow is much improved, mostly because other than Russell Westbrook, there isn’t a player that can score 30-plus points on any given night. Everyone on this team has a role and identity. Russell is the leader, Steven is the enforcer in the paint and Victor should develop into Russell’s undisputed sidekick. Then there’s the supporting cast of Enes Kanter, Andre Roberson, Kyle Singler and Domantas Sabonis. If Anthony Morrow manages to play some defense, he’ll be a huge addition to the rotation offensively and Alex Abrines as well.
Kyle Singler AKA FloatTank seems to be hitting shots.
Kyle Singler confessed to the media during Media Day that he has started meditation during the offseason to deal with stress and anxiety. Specifically, a special type of meditation called float tank. Thus far, through the entire preseason, it’s working. Averaging 12 points per game off 66.7 percent shooting from three and 57.7 percent overall. This is the play that Billy Donovan expected out of him last season. He’s finally looking like the Kyle Singler we all watched back in the day at Duke and for some time in Detroit.
There are certain things this team needs to improve on, but I’m satisfied with the progress thus far. Things like chemistry will improve as the season continues and Oladipo will become more comfortable with this new offense he was thrown into and expected to be the co-leader of. It’s time for a new season Thunder fans, the ninth to be exact. The marathon of a season starts Oct. 26 in Philadelphia.