Just this past season the Oklahoma City Thunder have turned into the darlings of the NBA. The reason, of course, is because of gold medal winner Kevin Durant and his ability to be better than every other player in the game right now. Durant, thanks in some part to the “Decision,” is easily the top fantasy basketballer this season and will likely carry the torch for many years to come. Last season his numbers were just unreal: 30.2 points, 47.6 FG%, 90.0 FT% on 10.2 attempts, 1.6 threes, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.0 blocks. Meh.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that he turned 22 years old just two weeks ago. What’s not to love about KD? Nothing. Look it up.
Russell Westbrook has moved into the conversation among the top point guards in the game. His 16.1 points, 8.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game are the stuff that franchise fantasy point guards are made. However, he does have a little Jekyll in him. He’s a career 40.8-percent shooter from the field, made just 0.3 threes per game last season, shot under 80 percent from the line, and turned the ball over 3.3 times per game in his first two seasons in the league. Westbrook can, and should, continue to improve. But before we end the discussion and move him into the same tier as the elite point guards in the game, he has to improve on his shooting.
Jeff Green is among the quiet contributors in the league. He’s not going to blow you away with his numbers, but he’s also going to contribute across the board in one way or another — save for assists. He can score about 15 points, pull in six rebounds, hit 1.5 threes, steal 1.3 balls, and block nearly a shot per game. Again, we’re not talking about Durant or even Westbrook level here, but we are talking about numbers. And you do know what numbers are, right Bubs? Green is a nice mid-round draft pick. Not sexy enough to nod your head once you pull him off the draft board, but pretty enough to introduce to your mother.
One of my favorite sleepers this season has to be Serge Ibaka. He was impressive down the stretch last season and even held his own in the first-round playoff series against the Lakers. In just 18 minutes per game last season Ibaka blocked 1.3 shots and pulled down 5.4 boards. He’s going to have to battle for playing time with Nenad Krstic, but I imagine that they’ll find a way to get him 20-plus minutes. A nice late-round pick. Krstic, on the other hand, has some scoring, rebounding and FG% value, but he might see limited minutes this season. Another late option, at best. Tahbo Sefolosha and James Harden are going to battle it out at the two-guard position. Sefolosha is good for adding steals, but not much else. Harden is an interesting add. I can see him breaking out a little this season. He could play a bit of that Ben Gordon role in OKC. Productive, even off the bench. Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich will likely have their moments, but neither adds more than hustle stats at this point. Not with the logjam that they have at the power forward and center positions.
PG: Russell Westbrook, Eric Maynor
SG: Thabo Sefolosha, James Harden
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Jeff Green, Nick Collison
C: Nenad Krstic, Serge Ibaka, Cole Aldrich
Up Next: Miami Heat