Nobody is expecting this Oklahoma City Thunder team to go anywhere, but they could threaten teams with their defense.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are not contenders this season or projected to make the playoffs for the first time in a long time. OKC Thunder fans are used to making it to the playoffs every year.
The dominant days of having Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are now behind them and now they will look to rebuild this team up from the ground up. Chris Paul may likely be traded and other players might be traded along with him so that the team can go into full-on tank mode.
Although that may be true, this version of the Thunder could be great defensively. Back in the day when you were on your varsity basketball team or community leagues, your coach would tell you that while you don’t have any scoring threats, you can still be good on defense.
The Thunder will put that lesson into effect this year. This team won’t outscore teams like the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, but what they can do is try their hardest on defense.
The Thunder have a defensive stud like Andre Roberson to guard the best wings in the league. Roberson is not known for his offense, but in a conference with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, LeBron James, James Harden and Donovan Mitchell he is invaluable. You need a guy that can stay in front of those behemoth offensive players.
In his last full season which is 2016-17, he was an All-Defensive team player.
Chris Paul will be able to stay in front of point guards like Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Jamal Murray, and Russell Westbrook. Paul is a six-time steals champ and a nine-time All-Defensive team player. The Thunder are in good hands on defense at the point guard position.
At the center position, the Thunder have two brick walls in Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel. Steven Adams is one of the league’s strongest players and it’s going to be hard to get past him for easy buckets at the rim. Adams has averaged a block a game for three straight seasons, so he has the ability to get rejections.
Backing Steven Adams up is Nerlens Noel. Noel, in his rookie year, averaged nearly two blocks a game (1.9). Last season he averaged 1.2 blocks per game which was good for 28th in the NBA. Noel is known for his defensive prowess more than his offense and he will be a reliable rim defender for the Thunder if they go with this team for the full season.
The Thunder have other players that can defend also. Players like Terrance Ferguson who was able to help the Thunder as a 3-and-D starter will be counted on in the defensive effort.
The Thunder will not be one of the best teams in the NBA like they usually are due to the loss of their superstar players but they still have pieces that can help on the defensive end.