You probably know this by now but the Thunder traded James Harden recently.
But did you know they also traded Cole Aldrich too? Meaning the Thunder dealt away their likely backup center. Meaning the only remaining 5 on the roster besides Kendrick Perkins is Hasheem Thabeet. If you’re looking for something to scare people with on Halloween, just remind them of that.
Thabeet looked acceptable during the preseason, especially during a stretch against the Bulls putting up a bunch of rebounds and points in a matter of minutes against quality opponents. But that’s a few minutes during a preseason game where his career indicates the Thunder shouldn’t expect much production.
Scott Brooks though, feels good about Thabeet as his backup big man.
“What Thabeet has shown the last four or five weeks, we feel very confident that he can do a very good job for us,” Brooks said. “He’s shown a lot of toughness, ability to protect the basket and he’s athletic. You don’t look at 7-foot-3 guys and say he’s an athlete, but he’s an athlete. He can move around pretty good for a guy his size.”
The Thunder do have two roster spots open, so there’s potential to ring up Daniel Orton again or maybe consider someone else to fill that role. Right now it naturally falls to Thabeet. But the Thunder love versatility and have a couple of other guys that can slide up a position too.
“And we’ve got some flexibility,” Brooks said. “A lot of the league goes small so we’ve got Serge as our 5 and we’ve had some success with that lineup. And then we have Nick as our 5. So we’re going to be covered there.”
Said Nick Collison: “We’ll have to get other guys to play, Hasheem and Perry and myself. We’ll just have to figure it out. We’ve had the same team here for the last two, three years and now it’s a lot different. We got to figure out how we’re going to play together.”
A lot of Collison’s minutes came at center, especially in lineups where he was OKC’s lone big. When the Thunder went small, Collison often played the 5 spot. There weren’t a lot of times when both him and Perkins were on the floor together. And if he was playing with Ibaka, Collison was usually the 5.
“It’s up to coach. I’ve done it my whole career,” Collison said about playing center. “It seems like the majority of my career I’ve played 5 just because the way it’s worked out. I’ll do whatever. I prefer playing 4 but I prefer being on a better team so if it helps us be a better team playing 5, obviously that’s what I’m going to do.”
We’ll see opening night against the Spurs if Brooks trusts Thabeet enough to play that backup role or if he leans toward using Collison more in the spot. Just one of many new, unexpected questions heading into OKC’s opener.
On Collison and Martin: “He’s not one to really pound the ball and kill grass with the basketball. He’s going to move the basketball quickly and make decisions quickly… And having him and Nick, they’re going to build a chemistry. When you have good players that understand roles that want to do the right things, it’s going to work eventually.”
On building chemistry with Martin: “Just work on it. Work on all of our offense and within our plays there will be situations that we’ll interact so we’ll just have to work on it.”
On Martin: “He’s a really good cutter. He can shoot, he can drive. I think he’s really good off the ball too. It’s a little different because James is more dribble oriented he’s more of a cutter off the ball. We’ll figure out the best way to play.”
On the trade: “I think we got to move forward and we’re happy to have some good players out of it. It’s a little different. Obviously we’re never happy to see guys that we learn to really friends with leave but it’s part of the business.”
On Martin: “He’ll bring offense. He’s definitely a hell of a scorer. I think he’s definitely going to bring that to the team and that’s something great.”