Opponent recon: Thunder prospects starting to bear results

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City's young trio has carried the team to legitimacy for the past four years. This year they could get some help from some other youngsters.

Projected starters: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins

The Thunder have won more than 67 percent of their games each of the past three years. After trading away the best shooting guard in the league last year, they got even better. General manager Sam Presti comes under criticism occasionally for failing to load the way that the Heat do or systematically churning unsung players out like the Spurs do. But what he's doing is working so far. He does a great job identifying the mold of player he wants to fit the style of play that has brought success to the Thunder.

As Westbrook returns from injury and the team irons out its early season wrinkles, don't be surprised if this winds up being the best squad assembled since the franchise's move to the desert. Visit SB Nation's Thunder blog Welcome To Loud City for some darn good Thunder coverage.

Rising: Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb. Two of the returns in the Harden trade look like they should be fixtures in the Thunder rotation this season. Steven Adams has shown the ability to be dangerous on the boards, already averaging 6 per game in just 17.5 minutes. The nice start builds on an impressive preseason where he averaged 8 points, 8 rebounds, and a block. At this point Perkins brings little to the starting lineup other than snarling ability and Thunder fans are apparently already looking for Adams to take the starting job - if Adams continues to progress, that could be the case soon.

Meanwhile Lamb is providing a nice scoring option for the second unit, looking to help replace the void left first by Harden, then Kevin Martin. He relies almost exclusively on his jumper, which did him in last year. So far so good this season with 10 points per game on 59 percent true shooting.

Not so much: The Thunder offense has been surprisingly lackluster in the early going. Prior to Wednesday, they were dead last in effective field goal percentage as a team. If Durant and Westbrook weren't averaging in the top three for free throw attempts per game, they could easily have been looking at a 0-3 start before their blowout against Dallas. But that's a big part of the value that comes from being able to get to the line, whether you're doing so out of talent or getting superstar calls. Most of the issues were just open shots not falling - eventually that will even on out.

What you might not know: Feel like checking out life on the fanbase of a team having to make some tough financial decisions, combined with a good old fashioned Bill Simmons buffoonery debunking? Welcome to Loud City has it for you.

Don't let him beat you: Josh Smith Kevin Durant, I guess.

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