Oklahoma City Thunder 2008-09 Fantasy Preview

Quick Note: Did a lot of work on my forthcoming rankings over the weekend and learned a significant lesson. It seems that much of my analysis in the “where to take him” sections of my team previews aren’t going to line up with my actual rankings. (For instance, I may have said draft a player in the third round and in my rankings he’ll be a fourth-rounder.)

It’s clear that was kind of a dumb section to include on my team previews before the rankings rounded into shape. Anyway, the final rankings (and are rankings ever really final?) are the ultimate source on the site, which seems like an obvious point, but just thought it should be passed along.

All previews follow the same format. I’ll be going in depth only on the players worth owning in a standard 12-team league, followed by players who you might consider as injury handcuffs/deep sleepers. As always, it starts with the most valuable player on the team:

You can really see how happy Durant is to be playing in Oklahoma. Oklahoma!

You can really see how happy Durant is to be playing in Oklahoma. Oklahoma!

 

Kevin Durant (SG/SF)

Helps: Points, FT%, Steals, Blocks

Hurts: FG%, TOs

The Thunder are going to suck like a Finger of God-level tornado, which Oklahomans are probably used to, but at least they get to watch a star in the making. Durant immediately emerged as Seattle’s dominant offensive player last season and that should continue despite the franchise’s move to the middle of nowhere.

Durant was the most valuable fantasy rookie last season and his stock will only increase with more experience, and likely more minutes in his sophomore campaign. He averaged 21.1 points as well as a steal and a block per 36 minutes while shooting .873 from the line last season.

The 20-year-old Durant played “only” 34.6 minutes per game as a rookie and if he sees a jump in playing time (as most second-year players due as their conditioning improves), he could log close to 40 minutes per game. That would put his line somewhere around 23 points, 1.1steals and 1.1blocks per game.

Unfortunately, a young player carrying an otherwise shitty team is sure to have a bad FG% and excessive amount of turnovers. Those negatives keep Durant from reaching fantasy superstardom – at least this year.

When to take him: In the fourth or fifth rounds.

Nick Collison (C/PF)

Helps: Rebounds, FG%

Collison emerged as a surprise last season, almost averaging a double-double (9.8 points, 9.4 rebounds per game) despite only playing 28.5 minutes per contest. He has made steady improvements in each of his first four seasons and more could be on the way.

The big key is that Collison’s fouls per 36 minutes have decreased steadily from 6.5 his rookie season to 5.3, to 4.4 and then to only 4.0 last season. If he averages less than four this season it will more playing time and an almost sure double-double for the season.

Collison doesn’t help much elsewhere other than a fine FG% but any player capable of a double-double has significant value.

When to take him: In the 10th or 11th round, as a second center.

Chris Wilcox (C/PF)

Helps: FG%, Rebounds

Hurts: FT%

We can all stop waiting for Wilcox to make the leap into a legitimate double-double threat and a force on the blocks. We all have learned what he is: a decent rebounder who can only score when he can get to the rim frequently.

Even on a terrible team, Wilcox’s playing time decreased last season to only 28 minutes per game. He shoots a high percentage because he only scores on dunks but he doesn’t add much value anywhere else and is not a useful big man for blocks.

Once he left the Clippers two seasons ago, many thought it was his time to become a 15/10-type player. Instead, everyone learned why he never got much playing time alongside Elton Brand.

When to take him: In the 10th or 11th round, as a second center.

THE REST:

Point guard Earl Watson is fine source of steals and assists but doesn’t give you much elsewhere and his percentages stink, although they were better than normal last season. There are so many better point guard options out there, he’s kind of a last resort/injury replacement type of player.

Forward Jeff Green is a Tayshaun Prince level fantasy player. He doesn’t do anything well but does enough things with mediocrity to make people grab him. Don’t do it.

Rookie point guard Russell Westbrookis worth keeping an eye on, but nothing he has shown thufar makes it worth drafting him except for deep leagues or keeper leagues.

Center Johan Petro always posts solid per minute numbers but can never seem to crack 19 minutes per game and is behind Wilcox and Collison on the depth chart. He’d be worth a pickup if either of those guys gets hurt.

Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility rules.

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Filed under Draft Strategy, Season Preview, Team Preview

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