This past offseason has been a busy one for the Oklahoma City Thunder. From the draft, to free agency OKC has improved on the team that finished near the bottom of the NBA last season.
In this Summer's draft, the Thunder picked up three players. James Harden, Byron Mullens, and Robert Vaden.
James Harden (SG): Harden is expected to make an instant impact for the Thunder. He brings the Thunder a scoring compliment to franchise cornerstone Kevin Durant, and helps fill out one of the weakest positions on the team.
Byron Mullens (C): Mullens is, what experts call, a project Center. He is a "real" seven foot, but lacks the physical presence needed to play in the NBA. If Mullens can develop a consistent post game, he can contribute in this league.
Robert Vaden (SG): Vaden, who has already signed with a Euroleague team, was picked up to add another scorer to the Shooting Guard position. After a lack luster showing during Summer League, Vaden signed with an Italian club to continue his development.
Oklahoma City has been busy this offseason in free agency. By getting rid of "dead weight" and adding veteran depth where it is needed, the Thunder have set themselves up to accelerate the development of its younger players.
Etan Thomas (C): Thomas was acquired in a trade from Minnesota for Chucky Atkins and Damien Wilkins. Thomas, who is originally from the Tulsa area, and will bring much needed depth to Center position.
Kevin Ollie (PG): Ollie was, obviously, brought in to help mentor Russell Westbrook. Ollie has never averaged more than 1.54 TOs a season (according to NBA.com) and should be able to help reel in Westbrook's reckless play style.
Serge Ibaka (PF): Ibaka, who wasn't technically a free agent since the Thunder owned his draft rights last season, has a lot of potential to have an impact on this team. During the Summer Leagues, he showed that he is not only a great athlete but also has a soft touch on the basketball. Even though OKC is deep at Power Forward, he should see a good chunk of minutes as his development continues.
Even with adding Thomas and Ollie, Oklahoma City will be close to, if not the, youngest team in the NBA. Despite this, many are calling for the Thunder to have a break out season in '09. With Head Coach Scott Brooks and General Manage Sam Presti building a solid team around a strong core of young players, Oklahoma City is sure to make ripples through out the NBA this season.
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