We took a look at a list of goals for the entire Thunder team a couple weeks ago. But let’s get detailed. Let’s get specific. I’m going to dig in and hit on some individual goals for a few players that would define a successful season. So what meters for success should we set for Nick Collison and D.J. White?
Restore his numbers to his previous two seasons. Last year was a down year for Collison. And before he got it going in March and April, it was a really down year. He got his numbers close to his career average by the end of it (8.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) but for a while he was a around 5.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg. He did shoot a higher percentage from the field than ever (56 percent) which was very nice, but he also took two less shots a game. The ironic thing is that his PER finished right in line with his two best years of 2006-2008, but yet his numbers were down. Collison needs to be the rebounding force on this team and having a guy lead your entire team with just 6.9 a game is kind of stinky.
Seven rebounds a game. Likewise, he needs to get this number up. I put it at seven because I’m not sure how many minutes he’ll get with Ibaka and White now competing for time. But he’s always been a solid player and productive when he’s on the floor. He’s the worker on the team and the little plays he makes are surely appreciated. But depending on the improvements of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green in the rebounding area, 6.9 boards a game isn’t great and shouldn’t lead a team.
Ideal stats: 9.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg; 55 percent from the field, 75 percent from the line. Those numbers may actually be a bit ambitious for Nick. He could have a great season putting up six points and seven rebounds a game as long as he’s doing it efficiently. It’s not that OKC’s front line is stacked, but it’s just that there’s a couple players looking for minutes. Collison will likely be the second or third man off the bench unless someone else steps up and takes his minutes. Which is unlikely because Collison is valuable enough with the little thing to want on the floor for at least 20 minutes a night.
Play in at least 75 games. This is more a wish for good health and not winning a position battle. If Serge Ibaka beats him out and takes away his minutes, that’s fine. But more than anything, I want to see White healthy for a season. He missed 75 games in his rookie season with a benign growth on his jaw and even when he got back he’d lost a bunch a weight and wasn’t in great shape. He’s a nice player and a great bench guy, but OKC missed out on his services for most of last year. A full season and I think White could be a very nice bench player in the P.J. Brown mold for the Thunder.
Develop some semblance of a post game. He’s got a GREAT face-up game and elbow jumper. No problems with that. But he doesn’t do much on the block. Which is a little strange because that’s where he did most his damage at Indiana. Learn a baby hook, work on a turnaround jumper, figure out how to muscle an opponent down low. Just something.
Bulk up. Because of the jaw thing, he lost a bunch of weight. As a result, he lost his junk in the trunk that he used to muscle opponents on the block and put on them to block out. During the offseason White has been working to put back some of that weight, but once camp and the games start, will he keep it on? If he wants to defend the big boys he’s going to have to be physical and he’s going to need the bulk to do so.
Ideal stats: 7.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg; 50 percent from the field, 80 percent from the line. White’s stats are kind of hard to judge. He might see 20 minutes a game, he might see 10. It’s hard to know how many he’ll see. He’s going to be in the rotation, but will he be the ninth man or the seventh? Keep in mind, this is basically White’s rookie season. He only played in seven last season and while productive, he was basically handed to opportunity to play. The staff wanted to see what he had and they gave him the time to do it. It’s just hard to say what kind of time he’ll see this year. He’s a very nice player and I think he’s got a place on this roster with his face-up game, but I don’t know how much contribution he’ll have this year. He’s destined to have a Kurt Thomas/Malik Rose type career as a good shooter, good defender, good leader and good role player. So part of that will be accepting you job and doing it well, whatever it may be this year.
Sound off Thunderheads.