Share “OKC Thunder: Position battles”

Modified: September 28, 2008 at 11:31 am •  Published: September 28, 2008

m style="b">Advantage: Wilcox

Starting center
Nick Collison vs. Joe Smith

•Skinny: Assuming Wilcox wins the starting power forward job, Collison's 10.9 points and 11.0 rebounds as a starter last season help his cause to round out the starting unit albeit out of position. Smith is a savvy veteran who can teach the younger players the right way to play, and he'll have plenty of opportunities. But the Thunder's priorities lie with developing its younger core players, not playing the 33-year-old Smith heavy minutes. Advantage: Collison

Backup center
Robert Swift vs. Johan Petro

•Skinny: Petro played in 72 games last season, 28 as a starter, and averaged 6.0 points and 5.1 rebounds. Swift is recovering from knee surgery and will be slowed throughout the preseason while recovering from a broken bone in his hand. But don't be surprised if Smith is called upon to fill this role at times if he isn't named a starter and neither Petro nor Swift can provide productive minutes. Advantage: Petro

Backup shooting guard
Damien Wilkins vs. Kyle Weaver

•Skinny: Kevin Durant likely will start at shooting guard for the second consecutive season, and Weaver, a second-round pick out of Washington State, is too inexperienced to be relied upon for consistent backup minutes at this point. Wilkins, a natural small forward, is more likely to get the call to spell Durant at shooting guard with Westbrook also expected to see minutes at off guard. Advantage: Wilkins

By Darnell Mayberry