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GM Presti thinks Thunder can improve on 60-win season

Sep 26, 2013, 2:56 PM EDT

Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant AP

James Harden left before last season starter, yet the Thunder improved — they scored 2.6 points more per 100 possessions and allowed 0.8 less per 100. They were a 60-win team, a better team than the year before, their playoffs just cut short by Russell Westbrook’s injury.

This year Kevin Martin is gone and the Thunder are going to need Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson to step into bigger roles and thrive — and that just may happen. First off, Kevin Durant and Westbrook are just 25, their games are still improving each year. Also, the Thunder have built a Spurs-like system where guys just can step in and do the job, whether it be Serge Ibaka or now Lamb.

Thunder GM Sam Presti said at the team’s press conference he thinks the team will improve this year, as reported by the Oklahoman.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to build on the success and strengths of last season,” Presti said, “and we think we have an opportunity to do that….

“I think Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb have, really, almost pushed the standards higher for some of the younger players that will follow them in our program in the future,” Presti said. “They’ve been incredibly diligent. The time they’ve put in and the quality of the work has been exceptional.”

The Thunder will be one of the NBA’s best teams in the regular season (I think they will have the best record in the West). The fact is in the grind of the regular season you just can’t prepare and make changes to deal with OKC’s athleticism (it’s the same reason Miami just overwhelms teams in the regular season). That is mostly about Durant and Westbrook being healthy.

The playoffs, when teams have time to prepare and can take away your first couple options in your offense, that is when I wonder how the Thunder will do. Last season when Westbrook went down the Thunder were lost when the primary options on their basic sets were taken away. I’m not sure they have all the weapons they need for the playoffs.

But this is still a contender and a team that could improve off last season, and make their GM look even smarter.

  1. moseskkim - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    kevin martin leaving isn’t a huge deal. reggie Jackson showed that he can score and westbrook is big/athletic enough to guard many 2’s. lamb has the tools to be a good swingman. doesn’t have to be great but has to be able to defend and score around 10 and stretch the D with some outside shooting. less perkins, more ibaka, collision.. Thabo is solid. yeah the Thunder should be fine.

    • antistratfordian - Sep 26, 2013 at 7:54 PM

      Reggie Jackson cannot replace Kevin Martin’s scoring (and certainly not James Harden’s). He’s small and he can’t shoot.

      I’m not sure what the Thunder are going to do for points off the bench, but it’s not going to be pretty.

      • moseskkim - Sep 26, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        Jackson averaged 14 points on 48% shooting in the playoffs. if he gets similar playing time (6th men can get low 30’s) and continues to improve, you don’t think he can replace martins effectiveness?

      • antistratfordian - Sep 26, 2013 at 8:33 PM

        No. And he only played two teams in the playoffs.

    • cjvangin - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:09 PM

      when they traded harden they got back martin it was a slight lose but durant westbrook and ibaka got better and made up for it. there is no way they make up for the 15-20 ppg they lost by losing martin and geting nothing back. jakson is a nice young player and he will help but this team is now a upset waiting to happen okc is the third or fourth best team in the west now.

  2. spursareold - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    Harden -> Martin -> Lamb

    That’s quite a dropoff. Not their biggest problem, however. Perk seems to have compromising pictures of Scott Brooks.

    • cjvangin - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:11 PM

      went from a 30 point threat to a 20 point threat to a 15 point threat. no matter how you slice it they got worse.

  3. money2long - Sep 26, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    i told you guys, i believe a month or so ago, that this team would not skip a beat. ibaka will be better. durant is on a mission.

  4. bigmeechy74 - Sep 26, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Sam Presti “Genius.” He has to be a genius right? He signed perkins to that extension. He is fascinated with scott brooks and derek fisher. And he traded the best young sg in the NBA that could’ve been a cornerstone for a dynasty…. for a couple of projects… #Genius

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