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3-on-3 Thunder Outlook

With the regular season two weeks away, I brought in a couple of colleagues to discuss the Thunder. With so many little questions to be answered to just push the Thunder over the hump into the NBA Finals.  Here’s what they had to say.

Biggest Surprise for the Thunder?

Chuck Chaney ThunderObsessed.com: It’s going to be Kendrick Perkins. He’s healthy. He’s lost some weight and looks in the best shape of his career. He’s ready to prove last year was because his injury. He’s been working out all summer. He’s become a veteran leader and look for him to show it on the court.

Zach Mentz, NBATradeBuzz.com: Kevin Durant’s future. While he hasn’t quite claimed the title of best player in the NBA (yet), I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Durant won MVP this season and was considered the best player in the league by the end of the season. His development will lead this franchise for years to come.

Derek James, 612sports.net: James Harden. Perhaps it’s playing with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, but the 3rd pick in the 2009 Draft has gone about putting forth a nice career so far despite never playing more than 16 mpg in his first two seasons. More than just a great beard, Harden has been efficient and effective in the time he has seen and almost every known metric indicates a player due for a breakout year.

Biggest obstacle for the Thunder this season

Chuck Chaney, Thunderobsessed.com: Settling for jump shots when things do go their way. Thunder have a tendency to settle for jump shots and very long pick and roll three point attempts when the game is not going their way or they’re in a dry spell. Kevin Durant is becoming known for his three point attempts on buzzer beating attempts. Coach Scottie Brooks needs to address this.

Zach Mentz, NBATradeBuzz.com: The Thunder’s biggest obstacle isn’t the usual suspects such as the defending champions Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs or Los Angeles Lakers; it’s themselves. When Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are sharing the basketball appropriately and the Thunder are rolling, they’re one tough team to stop. The team chemistry and defense of this team will determine how far they go, as it’s obvious they have the star talent to win a title.

Derek James, 612sports.net: Since the Westbrook thing has been discussed ad nauseam, I’ll use this space to point out that the Thunder went from 11th in opponent’s PPG in 2009-10 to 18th last season and from 12th to 15th in defensive rating last year. While not necessarily alarming, it could cause problems for a team that figures to contend for a title. A big factor could be whether or not Perkins regains his Celtics form and can fortify the paint next to Serge Ibaka.

Best thing to look forward to this season

Chuck Chaney, ThunderObsessed.com: Basketball in general. So glad to have it back. Oklahoma City has one of the best teams in the entire league. To be able to watch these guys every season is worth looking forward to in its own right. We are blessed.

Zach Mentz, NBATradeBuzz.com: Kevin Durant’s future. While he hasn’t quite claimed the title of best player in the NBA (yet), I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Durant won MVP this season and was considered the best player in the league by the end of the season. His development will lead this franchise for years to come.

Derek James, 612sports.net: It’s tough to pick one thing, but I’m curious to see how both a full-season of Kendrick Perkins as a Thunder and how the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook dynamic plays out. They may still be a darling team for the NBA, but they will be an exciting attraction everywhere they go because of the talent on the roster and expectations placed upon them.

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