Russell Westbrook is back.. https://t.co/1pQVyaNJps— Sports Vines (@TheSportsVines) July 15, 2013
There's no question that the main focus of the Thunder's offseason will be Westbrook's progress in training camp and his anticipated return to the hardwood.
Head coach Scott Brooks cryptically said that a plan for his return has "long been in place" but that doesn't give fans any insight into when the culmination of that plan will be realized.
Scott Brooks said Westbrook will participate in early parts of practice & then focus on individual work. Said a plan has long been in place.— Jeff Caplan (@Caplan_NBA) September 27, 2013
With uncertainty surrounding the star point guard Thunder fans can rest a bit in the fact that Westbrook has never missed a regular-season game due to injury in his five-year career.
While the focus was on Westbrook's return, that's not the only main storyline coming out of the Thunder's training camp.
Thabo Sefolosha Changes Jersey to No. 25
It's a sad, sad day for all of the diehard Thabo Sefolosha fans in Oklahoma City as the Thunder's starting shooting guard is switching from No. 2 to No. 25 for the upcoming season.
With this, eBay will be booming over the next week with all the Sefolosha jerseys going on sale—Sefolosha thinks there will be at least 19 hitting the market.
While that estimate is probably 17 too many, the fact that he's changing his number is a positive for the often underachieving shooting guard.
Sefolosha joked about changing his number that all 19 people who had his old jersey will have to buy new ones. #ThunderMediaDay— Siera Santos (@SieraSantos) September 27, 2013
With Kevin Martin heading to the sunny beaches of Minnesota, there's an even bigger hole in the Thunder's backcourt than before.
It seems that Sefolosha understands that the Thunder need more, and different, production from him this season.
With uncertainty surrounding the Thunder's bench this year, they need as much production from their starters as they can get. That means increased efficiency from Sefolosha, and hopefully the number change is an indication that he's ready to step up his game.
Kevin Durant Confesses His Respect for Dwyane Wade
In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Durant took a step back in his verbal battle with Dwyane Wade.
In case you missed it, Durant stated that he thought James Harden should've been in the top 10 of Sports Illustrated's player power rankings, and he should've had Dwyane Wade's spot.
After a few tweets back and forth between Durant and Wade—one from Wade reminding himself to "show Durant" why he's earned his spot in history and one from Durant saying "show me don't tweet me"—Durant had this to say at the Thunder's media day about Wade:
KD: "Dwyane Wade is a great, great player. I'm not discrediting anything he's done. I just voiced my opinion ... I love you D-Wade, man."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 27, 2013
It's somewhat disappointing that Durant recanted a bit on his previously bold interactions with Wade.
Watching Durant tap into his more aggressive self was fun to watch, and it increased the hype surrounding the Miami Heat and Thunder matchups we'll see this season.
Now that Durant is apparently Wade's biggest fan, the excitement around the two facing off died down a bit. Let's hope this isn't a sign that Durant isn't confident enough to talk some trash and back it up because the Thunder need him to bring some attitude to the floor to assert themselves out West.
Could Steven Adams Be the Steal of the 2013 NBA Draft?
Anyone who watched Steven Adams play at Pitt last year knows that he has a serious amount of potential.
Well, Kendrick Perkins thinks that Adams has the skill and talent to be the steal of last year's draft.
Perk on Steven Adams: "I think we probably got the steal of the draft, in my opinion."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 27, 2013
I'm not sure if Perkins has watched a lot of Adams, but he clearly has seen something that makes him think Adams could be a solid center in the NBA.
The only thing that's odd about Perk's statement is that if Adams really comes into his own, he may take minutes away from the man giving him all of this praise, as both Perkins and Adams play center.
I'm sure Perkins is just trying to support the rookie, but it's never too early to read into things, right? Bolstering the frontcourt with a 7'0" center coming off the bench wouldn't be horrible for the Thunder.
It's Time for OKC's Youth to Step It Up
Russell Westbrook isn't exactly sure when he's going to be back in action going 100 percent, and that's good news for the Thunder.
He's planning on being at the first practice in limited action, but playing in his first game is a different story.
The reason why this is a positive is because it gives OKC's youth a solid opportunity to show their value to the team, especially during their early preseason schedule.
Next week at this time the Thunder will be in Turkey prepping for the first game of their preseaosn. With Westbrook most likely on the bench, players like Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb are going to get even more time to show that they're ready to be consistent contributors.
Fans will get a much better idea of just how deep the Thunder are as they embark on their preseason schedule. The fact that they will most likely be without Westbrook, at least in his full capacity, until the regular season starts will help them get a much better look at their own depth and how their bench rotations will work most effectively.
If the regular season starts, though, and he's still riding the pine, it'll be a different story for the Thunder.
Takeaways from Media Day
The biggest takeaway from media day is that there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Thunder as preseason gets under way.
Westbrook's return is up in the air.
Russell Westbrook's "not sure" if he'll be ready to go to open the season, but was very positive at media day Friday: http://t.co/Bg4svmDQs8— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 27, 2013
The growth and development of guys like Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones and Steven Adams is yet to be seen, and those players are the foundation of the Thunder's bench rotation, both this season and for the future of the franchise.
With all of that uncertainty, though, also comes a good amount of excitement.
If Lamb can continue his summer league excellence, and if Jackson can recreate his playoff greatness, it's very possible that the Thunder can sit atop the Western Conference yet again.
Kevin Durant: "Jeremy Lamb has been looking great. You can really tell he's been working."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 27, 2013
It's a very fine line between trepidation and excitement, but for right now, the excitement for the season is stronger than any level of concern.
One final takeaway, on a less serious note, is that Daniel Orton doesn't seem to have slimmed down at all, which means his days in OKC could be very limited, especially with the talent ahead of him on the depth chart.
Nick Collison wrapped up media day best with his statement about the upcoming offseason, via Nick Gallo of NBA.com:
Tomorrow we’ll start building toward something hopefully that will be great. I think with us, the huge advantage that we have is the continuity we have with most of our guys. We can jump right in and get back to work and try to get better with the things we need to do to be a better team.
Ibaka: "I've been working a lot at putting the ball on the floor and my post moves."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 27, 2013
He is right on when he points to the fact that they have serious chemistry among a majority of the players on their roster. That's certainly a big advantage knowing that the team just needs to continue to build on the strong foundation that has already been solidified in the previous years to be successful.
Underrated addition by OKC could by Ryan Gomes. Solid role player.— Jeff Caplan (@Caplan_NBA) September 27, 2013
One thing is for sure: The Thunder are most definitely a team to keep your eyes on during preseason because there is a lot to watch as we inch toward the start of the regular season.
Westbrook, asked if he'll consider changing his game post-injury: "Not at all. Not at all."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 27, 2013
From Westbrook's return to Lamb's continued development, there won't be a shortage of engaging storylines coming out of the Thunder's camp this preseason.