Today, This Is Thunder Basketball will look at, arguably, Oklahoma City's deepest position.
Jeff Green will likely enter the season as the starter at the Four. His improvement during his Sophomore campaign was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's breakout season. Even in the shadow of Durant, Green increased his season averages by 6 PTs, 2 RBDs, and 1 STL per game. While he is naturally a Small Forward, Green has thrived at PF and should only improve in his third season. After Green, the Power Forward position gets quite murky for the Thunder. They have five year veteran Nick Collison, who will also see time at Center, an incredibly consistent (and witty) player. D.J. White, who was out the majority of last season with a benign jaw tumor, showed what he can do at the end of last season and should be able to compete for minutes. Finally, there is Congo native Serge Ibaka. Ibaka played in Spain last season, and drew a lot of attention at the Summer League this year. Because he is still a "raw" talent, he will likely spend a lot of time with D-League affiliate, the Tulsa 66'ers.
Jeff Green has the ability to stretch defenses like few PFs in the league right now. He can post up, or pull up for the three. His work ethic and attitude is perfect for a young team like the Thunder. Collison, whose rebound totals dropped a bit due to injury last season, is a more traditional Four than Green. He is more likely to spend his time in the paint, and fight for rebounds. White improved with each game last season, ending the season with a Double-Double against the Clippers, and will be back in playing shape after the summer. From his limited exposure, he is more of a "banger" than the rest of the Thunder's PFs. He will fight for rebounds, and is the perfect kind of player to relieve Green when Collison is playing the Five. Ibaka is an unknown for most Thunder fans. He showed that he can score, but his inexperience shows on the defensive side of the ball. Hopefully, time spent with Head Coach Scott Brooks and the rest of the coaching staff can help accelerate his learning curve.
Green is a small forward, and it shows when he goes up against some of the NBA's better PFs. Dirk Nowitzki in particular showed what a more powerful Four can do against Green, scoring more than 40 Pts against Green twice last season. Unless Green can get a stronger post game, bigger PFs will be able to take advantage of him. Collison is a player that you either love, or hate. He is consistent, but his play could also be considered boring. He never does anything to amaze fans, but is the type of player OKC needs to keep around. White is a relative unknown, but he needs to work asserting his self defensively and he will be a valuable contributor. Ibaka could be Oklahoma City's biggest defensive liability if he doesn't improve. In Summer League games, he was slow to rotate and was often caught off guard when someone attacked the rim. More court awareness will go a long way towards improving his game.
The Power Forward position is deep for the Thunder. Whether it is the finesse of Green, consistency of Collison, power of White, or unpredictably of Ibaka, these guys will surely give Thunder fans something to cheer about next season.
(Stats from NBA.com)
This Is Thunder Basketball