This article is intended to give a snapshot into how I think each player likely to be in the Oklahoma City Thunder's rotation will perform statistically in the 2013-14 season. For each player there will be a line predicting his statistics in all the major categories for the upcoming season and a brief paragraph explaining this.
Kendrick Perkins (Starting C)
17 MPG, 3.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.8 ORPG, 1.1 APG, 1.0 BPG, 0.2 SPG, 1.1 TO, 0.418 FG%, 0 3PA, 0.622 FT%
While I no longer think that Perkins will be a good player, and might well flirt with the worst PER in the league for any starter if he has a rough season, he will still be the starter at center for the Thunder. While his minutes will take another dive, his chemistry with the other starters and the lack of a true replacement will help maintain the status quo. However, as you can see, I am predicting a rough year, which should be his last in blue and orange.
Serge Ibaka (Starting PF)
34 MPG, 14.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 3.1 ORPG, 0.4 APG, 3.4 BPG, 0.5 SPG, 1.2 TO, 0.543 FG%, 0.355 3P%, 0.755 FT%
Ibaka will be looking to build off a good year in 2012-13, and will no doubt be relishing a return to being the third or fourth scoring option in the lineup with the return of Russell Westbrook. I am predicting that he will maintain his ability score efficiently and block shots. However, look for his three-point shooting to become a bigger part of the offense, and also I expect he will become a much better overall defender, something that will not be shown in his statistics, but will certainly be noticed in a team-wide defensive improvement.
Kevin Durant (Starting SF)
38 MPG, 30.3 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 0.7 ORPG, 4.8 APG, 1.6 BPG, 1.7 SPG, 3.0 TO, 0.509 FG%, 0.423 3P%, 0.920 FT%
After an offensive season for the ages, I expect no let up from Kevin Durant. His performance without trusty sidekick Russell Westbrook showed his ability to be a point forward, and I expect that his ability to run an offense and beat teams with his passing will be a big change that develops this off season. Also, expect to see yet another 50-40-90 season and another scoring title to add to his already impressive collection. MVP anyone?
Thabo Sefolosha (Starting SG)
23 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.5 ORPG, 0.8 APG, 0.5 BPG, 2.0 SPG, 0.6 TO, 0.449 FG%, 0.418 3P%, 0.841 FT%
Sefolosha will see a lessening in his offensive responsibilities in 2013 as young both Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson will be looking to take minutes at shooting guard. However, his lockdown defense and accurate long-range shooting will keep him in the starting lineup for at least this season. Like last season and the season before, his biggest influence on the team's performance will be off the scorecard. If he plays lockdown perimeter defense and stretches the floor, he will have done his job.
Russell Westbrook (Starting PG)
35 MPG, 24.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.3 ORPG, 9.0 APG, 0.3 BPG, 2.3 SPG, 3.1 TO, 0.463 FG%, 0.335 3P%, 0.830 FT%
After missing most of the playoffs with that pesky blown meniscus, Westbrook will be back for the start of the regular season with a vengeance. While he will always be an aggressive player on offense, the Thunder are likely to try to get more ball movement into their offense to make their offense more versatile, limit turnovers and create better shots. This should have two effects on Westbrook's stats: First, he will wind up with more assists than ever before, even with Durant handling the ball more. Secondly, he will see a boost in his scoring efficiency as he takes better shots and gets teams paying more attention to his passing.
Reggie Jackson (Sixth Man PG/SG)
25 MPG, 12.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 0.8 ORPG, 4.0 APG, 0.3 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.6 TO, 0.463 FG%, 0.257 3P%, 0.812 FT%
Jackson, as indicated, is expected to "replace" Kevin Martin as the Thunder's sixth man next season. However, as most people will know, he is a very different player to the veteran sharpshooter. Jackson is a combo guard with a lot of Westbrook in his game. He is lethal driving to the rim, is a good defender and is a decent passer, but not a pure point guard by any means. While not a great long-distance shooter, his ability to score as the primary ball handler or be a glue guy who defends, passes and finishes at the rim, should make him a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Nick Collison (Bench PF/C)
22 MPG, 5.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.6 ORPG, 1.3 APG, 0.4 BPG, 0.3 SPG, 1.0 TO, 0.542 FG%, 0 3PA, 0.764 FT%
I think that Collison will see a jump in minutes next season to cover for the declining game of Kendrick Perkins. While he lacks the ideal body to bang down low, his hustle, smarts and defensive solidity should make him a passable center. His rebounding and shooting will probably take a hit if he has to bang with bigger bodies, but his value to the team will be just as great.
Jeremy Lamb (Seventh Man SG)
17 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.3 ORPG, 1.5 APG, 0.2 BPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.9 TO, 0.436 FG%, 0.341 3P%, 0.892 FT%
Jeremy Lamb is the other young gun who will see a lot of minutes replacing Kevin Martin. Unlike Jackson, Lamb is a very similar player to Martin. He scores mainly from perimeter jump shots. However, while not quite the distance shooter of his predecessor, he is more versatile. He is not a huge defensive liability, he can get to the rim and most importantly, he showed in the Orlando Summer League that he could score points even when his shots were not falling. This was the Achilles heel of Martin last season. Lamb will not offer a lot other than scoring, but that is enough for a guy who can take over against benches or slide into a complementary role with the big boys.
Perry Jones III (Bench SF/PF)
12 MPG, 6.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.6 ORPG, 1.1 APG, 0.4 BPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 TO, 0.449 FG%, 0.318 3P%, 0.724 FT%
The third in the Thunder's trio of young talents, Jones is likely to see the smallest role because he is backing up Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, who both will see big minutes. However, while unproven, Jones has the stunning athleticism and all-around game to be a killer bench player. He can comfortably play small forward, and also be a stretch four against small-ball lines. With limited minutes he is unlikely to make big waves in the NBA or to put up great numbers, but he should be on the floor enough to get people notice his game and predict big things from him in 2014.
Steven Adams (Bench C)
10 MPG, 2.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.4 ORPG, 0.2 APG, 1.0 BPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.7 TO, 0.464 FG%, 0 3PA, 0.695 FT%
While many people thought that Adams would hardly see the court in his rookie season, his Summer League play showed that he will be ready to provide the Thunder with a big defensive presence from the very start of the season. His minutes will be limited because of his offensive rawness and lack of experience, but I expect him to immediately be the Thunder's best rebounder and best defensive center. Also, look for Adams to get a much bigger role in the playoffs, where he could be a real difference-maker.
Daniel Orton (Bench C)
4 MPG, 1.0 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 0.5 ORPG, 0.1 APG, 0.2 BPG, 0.2 SPG, 0.2 TO, 0.482 FG%, 0 3PA, 0.523 FT%
Orton will not see a lot of minutes in a packed front court, and to be honest I do not see much of a future for him in Oklahoma City. Nevertheless, he should be able to push around some bench centers when on the floor.
Derek Fisher (Bench PG)
3 MPG, 1.2 PPG, 0.1 RPG, 0.1 ORPG, 0.3 APG, 0 Blocks, 0.1 SPG, 0.1 TO, 0.403 FG%, 0.373 3P%, 0.897 FT%
Fisher is going to be a locker room guy this season. With both Westbrook and Jackson ahead of him at point guard and an overflow of good shooting guards, Fisher will be playing mainly garbage time minutes. However, his impact on the team is sure to be more about locker room leadership, experience and a veteran presence who can help gel the team together. If needed, he has a pretty sweet three-point stroke.
Here is a bonus prediction of how the teams minutes will be rationed out at each position throughout the season. The number indicates the minutes I think they will play at each position on average in a non-blowout game.
PG 35 Russell Westbrook, 3 Derek Fisher, 10 Reggie Jackson
SG 19 Thabo Sefolosha, 15 Reggie Jackson, 14 Jeremy Lamb
SF 33 Kevin Durant, 3 Jeremy Lamb, 8 Perry Jones III, 4 Thabo Sefolosha
PF 27 Serge Ibaka, 5 Kevin Durant, 4 Perry Jones III, 12 Nick Collison
C 17 Kendrick Perkins, 10 Nick Collison, 4 Daniel Orton, 10 Steven Adams, 7 Serge Ibaka
Basketball-Reference was consulted to aid in the creation of these predictions.