Quotable: “Now I know I belong.” — Reggie Jackson.
PERRY JONES III
Position: Power forward
Niche: He's athletic. That much we do know. Beyond that we're still waiting for Jones to develop one dominant trait from his versatility.
Opportunity: Jones might be looking at another year of D-League duty with the Tulsa 66ers. He still doesn't make much of an impact in games, and that's going to make it hard for him to get on the court.
Quotable: “Perry's in a tough position. Last season, he didn't play many minutes because we're a good team … But he has a great attitude. His attitude and energy is always good. He's a talented young man. He's going to continue to get better for many years. I like what he's done. This year, he's going to be in a situation where he has to keep improving.” — Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
Position: Shooting guard
Niche: Bench scorer, disruptive defender. Although unproven, his smooth shooting form is expected to tangibly translate to points in the league. On defense, he's undersized, but uses his length for deflections and steals.
Opportunity: In essentially his rookie season — he played little last year — Lamb will be thrust into a vital role, relied on for energy and a scoring boost off the bench.
Quotable: “(He is a) smooth operator. He can shoot it really, really well. Athletic, can handle the ball, can play pick-and-roll. He can do just about everything, man.”
Niche: Perkins has made his living slowing down opposing low-post scorers and anchoring the defense.
Opportunity: Perkins, who has two years remaining on his contract, must atone for a poor post-season performance. To do that he needs more rebounds and blocked shots, and a more consistent defensive effort against opposing big men. Without that, he's facing the possibility of reduced minutes this season and being and waived through the amnesty clause next summer.
Quotable: “We just haven't considered using the (amnesty) provision. I wouldn't necessarily directly attribute that to any player on our team. Every team looks at the amnesty provision different based on their different circumstances. But it's not something that we've really explored.” — Thunder general manager Sam Presti
Position: Small forward
Niche: Defensive pest, high-volume rebounder. Advanced statistics say Roberson is great in those intangible areas, which the Thunder brass loves.
Opportunity: On the defensive end, he already plays at an NBA level. But the rookie still has a long way to go with his raw offensive game. And if he wants to get steady minutes, he's likely going to have to hit an outside shot somewhat regularly.
Quotable: “First thing I heard about Andre when he came into the league was Shawn Marion 2.0. He hasn't really failed us in holding up to that.” – Reggie Jackson
Niche: Perimeter defense. Sefolosha is one of the best in the business at harassing wing players.
Opportunity: The Thunder's starting shooting guard is actually a tone-setter on defense. But after his team-high 41.9 percent on 3-pointer, Sefolosha earned the green light to shoot. A repeat performance can give the offense a much-needed boost.
Quotable: “I know what I can do. But at the same time, I don't want to take away from what the big picture for the team is.” — Sefolosha on expanding his offensive game.
Niche: Rim protector, solid interior presence. It's not about the numbers with Thabeet, but more about the consistent and steady defensive presence he gives OKC in limited minutes on a night-to-night basis.
Opportunity: Adams is nipping at his heels for the minutes in that backup center role, but for now, coach Scott Brooks seems comfortable with playing Thabeet his 10 or so minutes a night.
Quotable: “As a young player, at 25 years old, he's really just beginning. We've always looked at everybody's body of work and how we feel like our organization can put them in positions to be successful. Clearly, we feel like there's an opportunity to impact Hasheem's development, but that's going to be a process.” — Sam Presti, in July of last year, talking about the Thabeet signing
Position: Point guard
Niche: Prolific scorer, heartbeat of the team. His potential return to form in mid December from a knee injury could provide this team a championship boost.
Opportunity: He has an immediate chance to put the kibosh on any speculation that he'll never be the same player. But if he struggles, particularly athletically, worry will set in.
Quotable: “I'm going to come back and be better … I'll always have confidence, never lose confidence in myself or my ability to do whatever.” — Westbrook
16 Week Curriculum With Instructions, Lesson Plans & CNG Conversion Kit