Going into the 2013-2014 campaign, the Oklahoma City Thunder will be short-handed in a big way. After finding out Russell Westbrook needed another surgery to fully repair his knee, they will be without him for the first 4-to-6 weeks of the season. Backup Reggie Jackson will have to step up even more than he did last year in the playoffs.
The good news is that the Thunder’s first two weeks gives them a schedule that could easily end with a record of 6-0. Here is an overview of their first six games — a very winnable schedule.
October 30th: Utah Jazz
The Jazz are clearly in rebuilding mode and will be trying to figure out just what their identity is to begin the season. With only one starter returning from last season, Utah will likely take a while to figure out their full rotation and just how they plan to attack the rest of the year.
November 1st: Minnesota Timberwolves
While the Wolves always play the Thunder tough and boast an improved roster, Kevin Durant just seems to be too much every time these teams meet. Like other squads, the Wolves will be attempting to build their chemistry early on with their new teammates and the Thunder can take advantage of that.
November 3rd: Phoenix Suns
A team that finished last in the West last year, Phoenix won’t be that much better this year. They are looking to build toward the future and doing a good job of that, but right now there is just no way they can compete for much more than a bottom feeder position in the conference.
November 6th: Dallas Mavericks
While the Mavs look like they could be better than last year, I don’t see it happening by much. I’ll continue to beat this horse until it’s dead, but, the Mavs are also a team with a few new faces like Monta Ellis that will take some time to get used to.
November 8th: Detroit Pistons
The Pistons definitely got better this offseason, but how much? Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings are the exact same kind of player. They take too many shots when they really shouldn’t, and oh, they’re on a new team that wasn’t good last year and will have to adjust to their new faces.
November 10th: Washington Wizards
This could be one of those trap games for the Thunder. Washington could be sneakily good this season with a healthy John Wall and his young, athletic supporting cast. But, in the end, they have no one to guard Durant and I don’t see them beating the Thunder this early in the season.