(Want to know the top five scariest places in Oklahoma? Royce lays them out over at The Lost Ogle.)
By the time this article runs, the Thunder will have played their first game, and, Gary England willing, be 1-0 after stomping the Kings. That’s going to happen. If it doesn’t, you probably shouldn’t pay any attention to my predictions for the rest of the season.
Key to the Season: Jeff Green
Sure, Kevin Durant is the team’s best player, and James Harden is the rookie ingenue that is supposed to fill the holes the team had last year. No one is going to dispute that. The guy who will have the biggest influence on how this season turns out for the Thunder, though, is the glue guy–Jeff Green.
For the Thunder to reach the unfair expectations being heaped onto them by much of the national media, Jeff Green is the guy who has to get to that next level. When he was drafted, the thought was that he would be as Scottie Pippen was to Michael Jordan for Kevin Durant. And, honestly, I think he can fill that role. For now, though, I’d just like to see him strive to be like David West. If he can consistently bring his A-game, improve his rebounding, and silence the detractors that say he is too small to play power forward (much like West dealt with before the Hornets arrived in OKC), the Thunder will easily improve on their win total from last season, and with luck challenge for a playoff spot.
Even if he does not, I think Green will do a lot for the team fresh off being named a team captain. While I don’t think I’ve seen this mentioned anywhere, it was Green who I saw motivating his teammates this Summer, by publicly calling on them to get to the gym (via Twitter). It might have just been that he didn’t understand you could send messages directly to people with Twitter accounts, but I prefer to look at it as him cracking the whip. Keep Reading…