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News » THE THUNDER STARTING FIVE


THE THUNDER STARTING FIVE


THE THUNDER STARTING FIVE
Russell Westbrook

→Position: Point guard.

→Strengths: A rare breed of point guard who is multi-talented and can impact the game in several ways on both ends. Athletic enough to score, rebound, defend and play multiple positions.

→Weaknesses: Set-up skills are a work in progress. Outside shot needs work. Tends to play out of control.

→Comment: Westbrook was a gamble with the fourth overall pick but has turned out to be a gem. If he's moved anywhere (unlikely), it'll be to the starting shooting guard spot.

Thabo Sefolosha

→Position: Shooting guard.

→Strengths: Still has plenty of upside at only 24. He's long, athletic and a potential lock-down defender. Capable of playing and guarding multiple positions. Rebounding, shot-blocking and playmaking skills are underrated.

→Weaknesses: Perimeter shooting is unpredictable. Can be a complete liability offensively if his shot isn't falling.

→Comment: Although a more polished offensive player likely can be found in the draft or free agency, defense is what the Thunder is trying to hang its hat on as an organization. Sefolosha excels on that end. Having him on the court alongside Kevin Durant also gives the Thunder another player to guard the opposing team's best player.

Kevin Durant

→Position: Small forward.

→Strengths: Can score 30 on any given night and is evolving into a better rebounder and set-up man.

→Weaknesses: Defense remains his biggest problem area, whether in man-to-man or in team defense. And he's still not strong enough to fight through contact and finish at the rim.

→Comment: The face of the franchise will play wherever he wants for as long as he wants. The only question is whether he'll stay at small forward, settle in at shooting guard or bulk up and become a power forward down the line. For next season, however, he figures to remain at small forward.

Jeff Green

→Position: Power forward

→Strengths: He's added a respectable 3-point shot to his game to complement his growing low-post skills and mid-range game. Creates mismatches with his inside-outside ability and doesn't mind doing the dirty work.

→Weaknesses: No matter how hard he tries, he'll naturally struggle to defend the game's elite power forwards, especially the more conventional back-to-the-basket types. As long as he's the starting power forward, there figures to be a ceiling on the team's interior defense.

→Comment: Green is admittedly more comfortable at small forward, but the only way he gets back to his natural position is if Durant moves back to shooting guard. Green has proven to be a quality NBA starter, and a move to the bench in favor for a banger-type power forward in the starting lineup is unlikely and perhaps could stunt his growth at this point.

Nenad Krstic

→Position: Center.

→Strengths: Savvy offensive player who can bring out opposing big men with his mid-range shooting.

→Weaknesses: He is what he is at this point. He'll never become a dominant rebounder and won't make opponents think twice about attacking the rim. If his shot isn't falling, chances are he's not making much of an impact to warrant starter's minutes.

→Comment: Helping his cause for a prolonged stint in the starting lineup is the dearth of quality centers who are better options. A draft pick (Hasheem Thabeet) likely wouldn't start from Day One while he adjusts to the NBA game. And the quality of free agents - Zaza Pachuilia, Mikki Moore, Chris Andersen, Rasho Nesterovic, Chris Mihm, Jamaal Magloire, Jason Collins - leaves much to be desired. A trade similar to the rescinded Tyson Chandler deal (Samuel Dalembert, anyone?) would be the only way Krstic gets bumped out of the lineup.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 2, 2009

 

 
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