The Oklahoma City Thunder will play their first preseason game tonight vs. the Houston Rockets in Houston at 8 p.m. EST.
The final scores of preseason games of course mean very little but there will be some things to watch for in this game.
The Thunder stars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka are expected to only play in the first half and have their minutes capped off around 20.
Two starters will not be suiting up for the Thunder as Thabo Sefolosha (hamstring) and Kendrick Perkins (wrist) are still nursing injuries and don’t want to rush back. Cole Aldrich will be starting in place of Perkins and Daequan Cook is likely to start for Sefolosha although that has not been officially announced yet.
Aldrich has a lot to play for this preseason as he is the leading candidate to take over the backup center minutes that belonged to Nazr Mohammed last season. Aldrich struggled mightily earlier this season in Summer League but head coach Scott Brooks is still confident in Aldrich’s abilities.
The most exciting player to watch for the Thunder will be rookie Perry Jones III. Jones III has by all accounts been terrific so far in training camp and practices and could be challenging Cook to crack the 10-man rotation and get the backup three minutes behind Durant. With the starters’ minutes being limited players like Jones III will get plenty of playing time to show us what they can bring to the team.
Another thing to pay attention too will be the play of backup point guards Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson. Maynor played just nine games last season before being lost for the year with a knee injury leading to Jackson taking over the role. Jackson did not shine in the role last season but looked great in Summer League earlier this year and Brooks has already said the backup point guard minutes will be split between the two to some extent.
The Thunder should be suiting up 17 players for the game. New faces Hollis Thompson, Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins, Andy Rautins and Walker Russell will all play for the first time in a Thunder uniform.
The Rockets should be a decent challenge for the Thunder as they will likely be playing some of their better players more minutes. Houston has a lot of new faces and rookies on their roster. Expect the Thunder to have the upper hand when their starters are in but once the second half comes, it will be more of a challenge for OKC to keep the score close.
The game will not be televised in Oklahoma City, only locally in Houston. The best bet to watch it will be finding some sort of stream online.