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Kevin Martin will spearhead the Oklahoma City bench.
We'll just get it out of the way right now—the Oklahoma City Thunder bench took a step back with the James Harden trade. They'll definitely struggle out of the gate.
But that doesn't mean that the reserves will be bad all season. On the contrary, they could actually be really good. Head coach Scott Brooks has a pretty interesting mix of talent sitting on the bench right now.
Let's take a look at the trade.
The Thunder lost three contributors—Harden, Daequan Cook and Cole Aldrich—as well as a legitimate superstar in Lazar Hayward (kidding).
Outside of Harden, the loss that looks the most significant is that of Aldrich, since it means that Hasheem Thabeet is the Thunder's backup center. But if Oklahoma City isn't concerned with the drop-off between him and Thabeet, it doesn't speak well for Aldrich's abilities in the first place.
Still, those are some big losses. However, the Thunder are adding a hyper-efficient scorer in Kevin Martin, two lottery-level talents in Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb and the steady Eric Maynor at backup point guard. That's not too shabby.
One thing to remember is that Martin isn't going to be squaring off against the top wing defenders in the league anymore. Not when he's coming off the bench and playing for a team featuring Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
That's a big change and a good one for a player who's already had four seasons with a true shooting percentage of 60 or better. He may be a defensive sieve, but offensively his job is getting a whole lot easier. Plus, he's never played with a frontcourt as good defensively as the trio of Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison.
As for the rookies, Lamb may not see many minutes since there's a bit of a logjam at guard in Oklahoma City. But Brooks will find it tough to keep Jones off of the court.
Jones is a freak athlete that could conceivably play the 3, the 4 or even the 5 if it's a really small lineup. The dude has some serious talent, and he showed a budding connection with Maynor in the preseason.
What's also important to consider when looking at the Thunder reserves is that they won't always all be playing at once.
So if a Maynor-Martin-Jones-Collison-Thabeet lineup doesn't look appealing, it's not a huge deal. Throw some combinations of those players in with Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka and you're looking at some intriguing options.
How does a Maynor-Westbrook-Durant-Collison-Ibaka lineup sound? Or maybe Westbrook-Martin-Jones-Durant-Ibaka? Obviously, a lot is going to depend on how the new additions play with the old guard, but the Thunder can throw around all kinds of cool lineups this season.