LOS ANGELES — On your mark … get set … go!
The next two games for the Oklahoma City Thunder could look and feel like the NBA's version of a track meet.
A back-to-back against the high-octane Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors promises to offer plenty of fast-paced and potentially high-scoring basketball.
The Clippers rank seventh in pace, using 100.6 possessions per game, while the Warriors rank second at 103.
For most teams, it would be a brutal, if not insurmountable, two-game road test.
And while this California two-step undoubtedly will challenge the Thunder, there might not be a team in the NBA better equipped to survive a track meet.
That's because the Thunder has fielded the most athletic roster in the franchise's Oklahoma City era, and perhaps the most impressive in the league today.
From the point guard position down the line, the Thunder possesses size and speed and length like never before. It's happened slowly and quietly, as OKC has used each of the past three drafts to accumulate promising athletes who suddenly are transforming into productive players.
Steven Adams, in six games, has shown a skill set that former centers Robert Swift, Nazr Mohammed and Cole Aldrich never did.
Jeremy Lamb has flashed athleticism that former guards Daequan Cook and Kevin Martin could only dream of.
Perry Jones III has added versatility that the Thunder probably never thought possible when Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox, D.J. White and Malik Rose manned the position.
And Reggie Jackson has made the point guard spot more explosive than Eric Maynor ever could.
Add the abilities of Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka to that mix and you'll understand why the Thunder is tailor-made for a track meet.
That's eight of the team's 14 players, and all eight have been in the rotation through the first six games. Rookie guard Andre Roberson, another rangy athlete, would bump that total to nine but he can't even get on the floor.
How might any of this help the Thunder win?
The most beneficial aspect of having such an athletic roster is versatility. Regardless of what an opponent throws at the Thunder a counter is available. OKC can play big or small. It can play fast, or it can play slow. It can embrace a physical game or a finesse style.
But without the team's athleticism, matching up in many of those scenarios would be impossible.
For example, if the Clippers or Warriors trot out a small lineup the Thunder can counter with a three-guard lineup consisting of Westbrook, Jackson and Lamb, as well as Durant and a more traditional big man. It's a unit that would put pressure on defenses because of its ability to attack the rim and score from the perimeter, but it's one that wouldn't be as prone to defensive breakdowns thanks in large part to Jackson and Lamb both possessing 7-foot wingspans.
Youth gives the Thunder even more of an advantage.
Each of the aforementioned nine players is 25 or younger, which theoretically allows OKC to run longer and recover faster.
The scary part is so far the Thunder hasn't even scratched the surface of what it's capable of with its new cast of characters. Yet the team's offense has been on par with fast-paced teams like the Clippers and Warriors.
Prior to Tuesday's games, the Thunder was tied with Atlanta for 10th in pace at 100.1 possessions per game. Its offense has generated 101.8 points per 100 possessions, the ninth most in the league.
And so if we do see a track meet out west, it could be exactly what the Thunder's offense needs.