Apr 7, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) wait for play to resume against the New York Knicks during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting the OKC Thunder’s rotation, best lineups next season


The Oklahoma City Thunder will have a somewhat new look next season with the departure of Kevin Martin.

Martin’s absence will leave minutes to be picked up, either by new guys like Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones or more minutes for returners like Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher.

The new look will likely result in a change in the rotation.

Two seasons ago, James Harden would play with the second unit, running the show with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the bench at the start of the second and fourth quarters.

Last year, the same was tried to be applied with Martin filling in for Harden, but it didn’t exactly go as planned. Scott Brooks began sitting Durant with around three minutes or so remaining in the first and third quarters, and then would often start him in the second and fourth quarters with the second units.

I expect at the start of this next season, Brooks will stick with the same rotation plan for Durant, sitting him before the end of the first and third quarters.

At the start of the season, it may even feel like the Thunder don’t really have a sixth man in a way. The starters will probably play a ton of minutes to start each half together before the first substitution is made.

Nick Collison will be the first big man in for either Serge Ibaka or Kendrick Perkins and Jackson and Fisher will come in to replace Thabo Sefolosha, Westbrook and Durant.

The two other reserves who will get a lot of burn will be some combination of Hasheem Thabeet, Lamb, Jones, and possibly DeAndre Liggins or Ryan Gomes (assuming rookies Steven Adams and Andre Roberson are spending most of the season with the Tulsa 66ers).

If Durant is taking a seat before the end of the first and third quarters, you would think Lamb or Jones would be the one coming in to replace him, unless Brooks plans to play a three point guard lineup of Westbrook-Jackson-Fisher (and I wouldn’t put it past him).

So it feels like there will really be no choice for Brooks than to have Lamb or Jones getting a lot of minutes in the rotation, even from the start of the season. Brooks could go with Liggins here and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he does, but Liggins may not even make the team.

I’m betting it’s Lamb coming in early in the game, probably after Jackson and Collison on most nights. Fisher and Thabeet will probably be the fourth and fifth subs. If Brooks is looking to go small, Jones or Gomes will be a good option as stretch fours.

Here’s an early prediction at MPG guesses for the Thunder next season (with last year’s MPG in parantheses):

Starters
PG – Russell Westbrook, 36 (34.9)
SG – Thabo Sefolosha, 28 (27.5)
SF – Kevin Durant, 40 (38.5)
PF – Serge Ibaka, 34 (31.1)
C – Kendrick Perkins, 23 (25.1)

Bench
Reggie Jackson, 18 (14.2)
Nick Collison, 19 (19.5)
Derek Fisher, 12 (14.4)
Jeremy Lamb, 15 (6.4)
Hasheem Thabeet, 8 (11.7)
Perry Jones, 5 (7.4)
Ryan Gomes, 2 (NA)

Second unit
PG – Reggie Jackson
SG – Derek Fisher
SF – Jeremy Lamb
PF – Nick Collison
C – Hasheem Thabeet

Lineup closing out games
PG – Russell Westbrook
SG – Reggie Jackson
SF – Thabo Sefolosha
PF – Kevin Durant
C – Serge Ibaka

Thunder’s best plus/minus lineup
PG – Russell Westbrook
SG – Thabo Sefolosha
SF – Kevin Durant
PF – Nick Collison
C – Serge Ibaka

Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Cass

    Starters

    PG – Russell Westbrook, 36 (34.9)

    SG – Thabo Sefolosha, 28 (27.5)

    SF – Kevin Durant, 40 (38.5)

    PF – Serge Ibaka, 34 (31.1)

    C – Kendrick Perkins, 23 (25.1)

    Bench

    Reggie Jackson, 18 (14.2)

    Nick Collison, 19 (19.5)

    Derek Fisher, 12 (14.4)

    Jeremy Lamb, 15 (6.4)

    Hasheem Thabeet, 8 (11.7)

    Perry Jones, 5 (7.4)

    Ryan Gomes, 2 (NA)

    Daniel Orton

    Second unit

    PG – Reggie Jackson

    SG – Jeremy Lamb/Derrick Fisher

    SF – Ryan Gomes/Perry Jones III

    PF – Nick Collison

    C – Hasheem Thabeet

    Lineup closing out blowout (like the 27 games last year Durant/Westbrook sat out of the 4th) games

    PG – Reggie Jackson/Derrick Fisher

    SG – Jeremy Lamb/Derrick Fisher

    SF – Ryan Gomes/Perry Jones III

    PF – Nick Collison

    C – Hasheem Thabeet

    Thunder’s best plus/minus lineup

    PG – Russell Westbrook

    SG – Jeremy Lamb/Reggie Jackson (depending on Lambs play)

    SF – Kevin Durant

    PF – Nick Collison

    C – Serge Ibaka

    Made a few changes, I agree with you for the most part. I see Lamb being more of an option, his overall potential is star-caliber, even approaching James Harden’s level if he could gain the confidence and stroke he had in college his freshman year. With the Team chemistry up, I say the Thunder go 64-18 and make it to the finals to play the Indiana Pacers (or Chicago Bulls).
    I would like to add, that I’m a HUGE Oklahoma City fan and I have been unimpressed by Kendrick Perkins. HOWEVER, he’s played through injurys (severe groin pull, back spasms, knee sprain) over the past 2 seasons due to an ineffective offseason. He was in the gym 3 weeks after the season was over and has consistently made remarks about working as if this is the season after his rookie year, he wants to get back in shape and create a better offensive game. Defense will come back if he can get healthy, offense will be learned once he can move easier without the ache. I believe Perkins will have his best year (since he’s been on OKC) this year and return to being one of the top 10 Centers in the game. If/when that happens, I honestly have no clue who could contest with the Thunder for 4 qtrs. Your bench would need to be as good as over 1/2 the teams in the NBA’s starters. Someone like Indiana (looking like the best team in basketball right now with respect to Miami. With Granger back (hopefully healthy), Scola (a legit backup threat to any team) and CJ Watson…My gosh) then theirs Chicago and Miami. I’d include the Spurs but I can’t count on Genobili or Green at this point and they are getting older… I’d add in the Rockets and Warriors but the Rockets don’t have the Superstar that everyone seems to believe the Rockets are getting and Golden State is a huge wildcard, but I don’t see them besting OKC in a 7 game series…

    Good article though man.

  • Kevin Craig

    Unless Lamb has had a transfusion of defensive skill and overall confidence don’t look for him to be the needed sixth man. Thunder are in trouble with a weak bench and an ineffective front court.

  • Dr Swishhh

    Yes, very good article, I hope you used a spreadsheet instead of a calculator! Of course some guys who played less games and more junk time have inflated bracketed figures but if PJ3′s minutes go down I’d be pretty disappointed (and he won’t be in OKC next year). I can’t see Lamb getting within 3 minutes of Jackson but I hope they do share the Martin court time. You really have done a great job of explaining things and allocating minutes Andrew. Nice work my friend.