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Oklahoma City Thunder Predictions

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Oklahoma City Thunder Predictions

The Oklahoma City Thunder earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with an overall record of 60-22. It was a pretty remarkable finish considering Oklahoma City traded away one of their best players in James Harden before the season even started.

It looked as though the Thunder were poised to make another deep run into the playoffs, but those dreams came crashing to the ground when Russell Westbrook was lost to a knee injury in the first round against Houston. While the Thunder would advance past the Rockets, they would be eliminated in five games in the next round by the Grizzlies.

Last Season
Northwest
Overall Record
ATS Record
Over/Under
Draft Grade
1st
60-22
49-31-2
37-43
B+
2013-2014 Depth Chart
Position Starter 2nd 3rd
Point Guard Reggie Jackson
Derek Fisher Russell Westbrook
Shooting Guard Thabo Sefolosha
Jeremy Lamb
Small Forward Kevin Durant
Andre Roberson Ryan Gomes
Power Forward Serge Ibaka
Nick Collison Perry Jones
Center Kendrick Perkins
Steven Adams Hasheem Thabeet

It’s hard to be skeptical of a roster that includes one of the best the NBA has to offer in small forward Kevin Durant, whose 28.6 ppg over the last four years is tops in the league. However, I’m not 100% sold the Thunder have done enough this offseason to keep pace with the stacked Western Conference. Not having Westbrook for the first four to six weeks certainly won’t help, but Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher are capable of holding down the fort for 10 to 20 games.

My concern with Oklahoma City comes in the loss of reserve Kevin Martin, who filled the void left by Harden when he was shipped to the Rockets. Who is going to be the guy who provides that third scoring option behind Durant and Westbrook? That role will likely fall on Jeremy Lamb, but he hasn’t showed enough for me to think he’s capable of matching Martin’s 14.0 ppg. Thabo Sefolosha has greatly improved his outside shot and could provide a few more points, but he’s never going to be a dominant offensive player.

Serge Ibaka has matured his game and is quickly becoming one of the better power forwards in the game, but there’s question marks surrounding center Kendrick Perkins, who has not lived up to the 4-year $36 million contract. Oklahoma City does have one of the most underrated backup big men in the NBA in Nick Collison, who does a little bit of everything for this team.

Whether or not the Thunder are an elite team worth contending for an NBA championship will likely come down to what they get out of rookies Steven Adams and Andre Roberson. Oklahoma City is high on both of these players and have a strong history of hitting it big in the draft, but it would appear Adams and Roberson will contribute more defensively than they will on the offensive side of the ball.

Schedule Breakdown

Oklahoma City’s schedule for the 2013-14 campaign is favorable to an extent. The Thunder only have to play in the dread four games in five nights spot once all season, while they benefit from getting to face three opponents in that scenario.

They also have a positive +/- when it comes to the number of games when they face an opponent on no rest (14), compared to the amount of times they will enter a matchup on at least one day of rest vs an opposing team playing in a back-to-back (15). Overall it might not seem like their aggregate of +3 is a huge advantage, but given Westbrook’s injury and the lack of depth it’s definitely a positive.

Full Schedule: ESPN

Scheduling Advantage/Disadvantage
4-in-5 +/-
Rest vs No Rest +/-
Aggregate +/-
Ease of Schedule Rank
2
1
3
11th
Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Over/Under Win Total
to Win the Western Conference
to Win the NBA Finals
52
8 to 1
7 to 2
Predictions

While I think there’s some serious question marks surrounding this team, I still like their chances of winning the Northwest division. Durant is more than capable of carrying this team while Westbrook recovers from knee surgery and the lack of depth shouldn’t come into play until later in the season. By that time I wouldn’t be surprised if Oklahoma City made a move to bolster their bench.

Denver finished just 3-games back of the Thunder last year in the division standings, but I believe the loss of Andre Igoudala will keep them from taking over the top spot. While the Trail Blazers and Timberwolves are a couple of teams on the rise, they aren’t ready to make a serious run in the Western Conference. Until Oklahoma City proves otherwise, they are the team to beat in the Northwest.

Not having Westbrook for potentially the first 20 games of the season, could have you thinking the under 52 wins is a good bet. However, I believe the over is the way to go. Oklahoma City plays just seven teams who made the playoffs over their first 20 games and four of those come at home. The Thunder haven’t won fewer than 50 games during a full 82 game schedule since 2009 and I’ll take my chances that they hit at least 53 victories this year.

Projections
Northwest Division Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Projection
1st
11-5
56-26
Over 52
Thunder Resources
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About the Author: Jimmy Boyd is known for his consistency. He's a proven winner in college and pro football, college and pro basketball and pro baseball. He finished as the No. 1 ranked MLB handicapper in 2007 by earning $1,000/game bettors $50,050. He also finished as the No. 1 ranked basketball handicapper in the 2008-09 season, profiting $1,000/game bettors 38,530. His basketball plays have banked $1,000/game bettors nearly $80,000 the last five years. Check out Jimmy's premium picks for tonight!
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