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OKC Thunder: Questions to ponder two weeks before training camp opens

The biggest unknown during these dog days undoubtedly has been whether the Thunder has enough to win it all.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: September 15, 2013

Basketball is almost back.

Believe it or not, training camp opens for the Thunder in less than two weeks. That means no more waiting and wondering. All of our questions about this revamped squad will soon be answered.

The biggest unknown during these dog days undoubtedly has been whether the Thunder has enough to win it all. Scores of smaller yet still significant issues must first play out before we discover the answer to that million dollar question, however.

As we count down these final days, here are five of the most pressing questions going into the 2013-14 Thunder season.

How will Russell Westbrook return?

An unfortunate knee injury to Westbrook devastated a state and derailed the Thunder's season. How Westbrook bounces back from that setback will now determine how far the Thunder can go. For five seasons we've watched Westbrook display one of the most fearless styles of play on the planet. His relentless attack has always put pressure on defenses and given the Thunder a go-to option whenever all else fails. But will Westbrook still have that same gear with a reconstructed knee? Will he still have that same mentality? Westbrook is expected to make a full recovery from the torn meniscus he suffered on April 24. But he may not be 100 percent to start the season. As a result, we may see a different player initially than the Tasmanian devil we've grown accustomed to. After an offseason of rehab, Westbrook's confidence and rhythm will be worth monitoring just as much as his motor and athleticism.

Can Reggie Jackson replicate his postseason performance for an entire season?

If Westbrook isn't himself early on, the Thunder has a terrific Plan B in Jackson. In his first postseason Jackson averaged 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 47.9 percent from the field. Can the third-year guard now do it for a full season? We see no reason why he can't thanks to his size, athleticism and finishing ability. But the fact remains that Jackson has never been a focal point of the offense. He didn't receive the primary backup point guard minutes last year until late December, and even then he often wasn't the primary ball-handler. Now Jackson is expected to be the team's sixth man. If he can succeed in that role Jackson can carry a second unit that is short on offensive weapons and go a long way in alleviating some pressure from the Thunder's stars.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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