Oklahoma City Thunder Stars Ready To Shine


Each year, a group of players take their game to the next level and really “stake their claim” in the NBA. It might be a rookie who makes huge strides in his sophomore year, it could be a player who has suffered through injury and is not fit & healthy, or it could be a young guy who just needed the opportunity to shine.

Much like Reggie Jackson exploded on the scene when Russell Westbrook went down in the 2013 NBA playoffs with a knee injury and in the subsequent season while Westbrook missed more time, the Thunder have a number of potential “break out stars” this season. With aging veterans like Thabo Sefolosha, Derek Fisher and Caron Butler leaving, and Hasheem Thabeet making way, the stage is set for the next generation of talent to take over.

Let’s have a look at the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “break out star” candidates.

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Jeremy Lamb (third year, shooting guard)

It’s not going to be an easy path to stardom for the former UConn Huskie. When you win an NCAA title as a freshman (alongside Kemba Walker) there are expectations. When you are part of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s franchise changing James Harden trade – those standards are set even higher. Heading into his third NBA season, all eyes are on Jeremy Lamb. Many feel the 22 year old’s time has come to show he has what it takes to become a star in the league, while others have already written him off. With two-year averages of just 7.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg and 1.2 apg over 101 regular season games – you can see why some people are skeptical. However, you need to put it into some context and its then you realize this might just be Lamb’s year.

In his rookie season, Lamb was in and out of the DLeague. He played just 23 games and logged just a shade over 6 mins per game. However, on the back of a strong Summer League showing in 2013 – Lamb earned himself more playing time. His second year numbers were 8.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg and 1.5 apg in nearly 20 minutes of action – a marked improvement on his rookie campaign and enough to showcase his immense talent. Until the Thunder signed Caron Butler in February, Lamb was playing a very valuable role. While that diminished after the All Star break, the signs were there – give the time and opportunity, Lamb can be a very good player at NBA level.

This off-season, Lamb has dedicated his time and effort on improving on the defensive side of the ball. Being a defensive liability is a sure-fire way to not earn minutes on Scott Brooks‘ team. So with a renewed focus on defense along with his natural all around development and more minutes for the taking, look for Jeremy Lamb to really blow up this season. We are talking Most Improved Player type of blow up – the kid is just that talented.

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Perry Jones III (third year, forward)

Another third year NBA player, Perry Jones has had an interesting start to his career as a pro. Once projected as a lottery pick out of Baylor, a red flag on his troublesome knees sent NBA teams running for the hills. The Oklahoma City Thunder were willing to take the risk on the versatile young forward and selected him with the 28th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. Since then, Jones has had a myriad of issues that have caused a rather interrupted career to date.

His rookie year saw him take the floor in just 38 games and he averaged around 7 minutes in those contests. He produced accordingly with pedestrian numbers of 2.3 ppg and 1.6 rpg. As a power forward who can also play the small forward spot, opportunities were going to be tough to come by behind Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. In his second year, PJIII started to see a little more action. Having worked hard to become a solid defensive player who can also stretch the floor with a jump shot, there were more opportunities with the second unit. He averaged over 12 minutes per game but saw just a slight uptick in production with 3.5 ppg and 1.8 rpg. His season highlight came on the defensive end as he locked down LeBron James as the Thunder took the points over Miami.

This year, Perry Jones managed to make real progress via the Summer League. Showing a new aggressiveness with the ball on the offensive end and a dedication to the corner three, Jones started to show the potential that the Thunder front office saw when they drafted him. He has since undergone a knee procedure but is recovering well and is set to really break out this season.

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Steven Adams (second year, center)

Unlike the first two candidates, the big Kiwi center is just a second year player. The 20 year old out of Pitt was drafted with the idea of developing him behind Kendrick Perkins and in a few years he would have progressed enough to contribute at the NBA level. The development was a lot faster than most people would have banked on. Adams played in 81 of the Thunder’s 82 regular season games and started in 20 of them in his rookie campaign. He knocked in 3.3 ppg largely on put backs, lay ups and dunks and also grabbed 4.1 rpg in under 15 minutes of action.

As with most rookies, the pace of the game got to him at times and he fouled a lot, but the signs were there – Steven Adams is going to be a very good NBA player. His footwork and hustle allow him to make plays and to guard some of the more fleet footed centers (something Perkins struggles with) and his soft hands see him finish around the rim with polish. On the defensive side of the ball, Adams is also very good, swatting nearly one shot every game.

With Perkins and Nick Collison slowing down and Hasheem Thabeet no longer on the OKC roster, Steven Adams is poised for a super sophomore season.

Who do you think will be the Thunder’s “break out star” this season? Vote below.