If there’s one thing that the departures of James Harden and now Kevin Martin have created, it’s opportunity.
It is possible that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can produce more, but more likely is that another player will step up.
Last year, we saw Serge Ibaka begin to do this, and then Reggie Jackson some in the playoffs.
So who are the most likely candidates to break out this season? Here’s my top five:
5. Perry Jones, III
I wish I could say Jones is number one on this list, but we haven’t seen a lot of promising things from him yet. He is hesitant on offense and still looks like he needs a lot of work to become better defensively. He’s also described as Durant’s backup so finding minutes for him is not easy.
4. Andre Roberson
People around the Thunder camp are having an increasingly sneaky, good feeling about Roberson it seems. The second first round draft pick by the Thunder averaged over 11 rebounds per game last year for Colorado. He has the size to be a small forward in the NBA and is a great athlete. Just YouTube his highlights to find a ton of great dunks. If he is the hustling, great athlete that he promises to be, I could definitely see Scott Brooks really loving him.
3. Serge Ibaka
I don’t have Ibaka number one on this list because I really think he’s a long way from being a more complete player. He still hardly posts up and is almost completely dependent on Westbrook to be effective on offense. Will he gradually improve again next year? No question. But will he break out? I highly doubt it.
2. Reggie Jackson
If Jackson does what he did in the playoffs, a lot of people will consider him to be breaking out. I think he is capable of replicating that performance and building on it even more. I think he will get a lot of minutes early on in the season and potentially even be closing out games beside Westbrook if the Thunder go small. He’s a monster in the pick-and-roll and handling the ball more while on the court with KD and Russ will really allow him to break out.
1. Jeremy Lamb
There’s a big part of me that is worried that Lamb won’t get much of an opportunity this season. I’m praying I will be wrong because if Lamb sees significant minutes, I think he will definitely break out. I think he can easily become one of the top scorers in the entire league coming off the bench. OKC needs more scoring off the bench and Lamb is one of the only players capable of providing that. He can score on his own and is great off the ball.