We preview the Oklahoma City Thunder and the impact their players will have on the 2016-2017 fantasy basketball season.
I don’t want to trigger any bad feelings for Thunder fans, but it’s going to be hard to do a team preview without mentioning the loss of Kevin Durant.
On the plus side, they pulled off a huge draft-day steal, trading the disgruntled Serge Ibaka to Orlando for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and pick 11 in the draft (which turned out to be Domantas Sabonis).
On the other plus side, this dramatically increases the value of Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo, who are ideally suited as running mates in the open court. They’re set to do some damage without the pressure of trying to secure a top seed in the West.
|Domantas Sabonis NBA Draft
Ersan Ilyasova Orlando Magic
Joffrey Lauvergne Denver Nuggets
Ronnie Price Phoenix Suns
Victor Oladipo Orlando Magic
|Kevin Durant Golden State Warriors
Randy Foye Brooklyn Nets
Serge Ibaka Orlando Magic
Dion Waiters Miami Heat
Oklahoma City Thunder Depth Chart
Rotation Player Projections
Starting Power Forward
Ersan Ilyasova, Enes Kanter and Joffrey Lauvergne will be fighting for minutes at Power Forward, and while Kanter is the better fantasy player, I think Ilyasova will start. Outside shooting is something this team desperately needs to allow the driving lanes to be somewhat open for Westbrook and Oladipo to do their thing, and Ersan helps spread the floor. I don’t expect Ersan to have much of an impact outside of deep leagues thought.
Rise in Value
This section is usually reserved for players who are set to take a huge jump in value, but Russell is projected to be the second best fantasy basketball player this season (first if you’re punting TO), so I feel that’s worth mentioning. The team is now his, and while the coaching staff has indicated that Russell will be looking to distribute more often, but I’m not buying it. He’s too big of a competitor to allow that to happen.
Anybody who owned Oladipo in fantasy last season knew how misused he was in Orlando, and he has finally woken up from the nightmare that was Scott Skiles and the Orlando Magic. He’s set for big minutes, and big fantasy production, so expect good things from Oladipo this season.
No Ibaka means 30 fewer minutes to compete for, and one less quality player to share time with. It’s now just Adams and Kanter who will be logging huge big man minutes, and this bodes well for both Kanter and Adams, but especially Adams. Expect close to a double-double a night.
Other Player Summaries
Kanter gets a lot of slack for not being a great defender, but that doesn’t matter a whole lot in fantasy basketball. He’s a walking double-double, who shoots 50% from the field and 80% from the line. If you can ignore his lack of AST, STL and BLK counting stats he makes for an excellent punt-blocks big man.
Domantas Sabonis Dynasty Stash
While I like Sabonis’ game, he’s not going to be getting a lot of minutes this season to be fantasy relevant (unless there’s an injury to Kanter or Adams). He’s a dynasty stash target thought.
Cameron Payne Deep League
It looks like we might be getting a good look at Payne this season with the pressure of trying to lock in high playoff seed out of the mind of Thunder players. We saw glimpses of the ability to hit a three, get a steal and hand out some assists, but I think he’ll only get enough minutes to be deep league relevant this season.