A team that truly came out of nowhere last season was the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder were eliminated in the first round of last season’s playoffs, but not before throwing a very real scare into the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.
I think we can expect the Thunder to do even better this season. I have OKC projected to win 54.2 games in 2010-11. The team is full of young talent, and this summer they added the interesting big man prospect Cole Aldrich of Kansas to their stable. For all the world, he reminds me of the severly underrated former Utah Jazz center Greg Ostertag. Ostertag was a very productive mainstay on the extremely strong Jazz teams of the late 1990s. I envision Aldrich playing the same role for the Jazz.
I believe the one player in the regular Thunder rotation that is holding them back from truly being a special team is PF Jeff Green. Green is not a power forward, he is a middling small forward miscast in the role of power forward. He gets consistently outplayed by power forward counterparts, and that has a dilatory effect on Oklahoma’s win production.
Below I list the projected wins and losses I expect each player on the Thunder roster to produce next season. The numbers are based upon the statistics produced by each player over the course of the last three seasons, along with some educated guesses at how playing time will be distributed throughout the roster.