The face of the franchise showed us he's ready to expand his game and become much more than a lethal scorer. Durant displayed improved skills as a defender and playmaker, while effectively playing multiple positions. Durant also appears to be settling in as a more efficient player after compiling more assists than turnovers in each of his first three seasons. Add it all up, and this looks like it could be the first season that we say Durant is the complete package.
He was so good in so many areas this preseason it's impossible to highlight just one aspect of his improved game. Harden has clearly come back better as a defender and spot-up shooter, and, perhaps most importantly, he's learned how to maintain his aggressiveness even while playing alongside Durant and Russell Westbrook. Keep that up, and it might not be long before he finds himself in the starting lineup.
Last season's pleasant surprise is not longer a sleeper. But it doesn't look like there will be much opposing players can do about Ibaka. His athleticism alters the outcomes of games on the defensive end and, now, he has a more polished offensive game to complement his natural talents.
After ranking in the bottom third in 3-point shooting a year ago, the Thunder now has a realistic shot to jump into the top one-third. The addition of Daequan Cook and Mo Peterson, in addition to returning sharp-shooters Durant and Harden, has given OKC plenty of shooters to make defenses pay for double-teaming, sagging off or rotating late. Look for the offense to be crisper because of it.
Green will never be the primary offensive option. But the all-around skills he showed this preseason should be invaluable starting Wednesday. Just when defenses thought they had Durant and Westbrook under control throughout the exhibition season, Green unleashed an onslaught of offensive moves, most notably a more deadly arsenal from the left block and a more reliable stroke from the 3-point arc. Watch for his quiet contributions all season.
By Darnell Mayberry