Projected Opening Day Starting Five
Point Guard: Jannero Pargo
Shooting Guard: Xavier Henry
Small Forward: Boubacar Moungoro
Power Forward: Kameron Woods
Center: Dakari Johnson
How Did The Blue Do Last Year?
Last season, the Oklahoma City Blue were nowhere near impressive, finishing the regular season 19-31 and qualifying 4th in the Southwest Division. As a unit, the team failed in nearly every aspect. However, specific individuals show a brighter future may lie ahead for the Blue. Dakari Johnson, the Blue’s star center, made D-League All Rookie Honors, marking the third season in a row that a Thunder draft pick has scored the achievement. In spite of the poor season, the Blue proudly set a record for D-League stadium attendance during the annual field trip to the Thunder’s Chesapeake Energy Arena. In addition to this, the Thunder took advantage of the summer, making use of their young talent by showcasing them successfully in the Summer League.
How Will They Do This Year?
The Oklahoma City Blue kickoff their season on November 11th, facing the Maine Red Claws, at home, in the Cox Convention Center in downtown OKC. For the Blue, this season may be one of their best, as they possess one of the most talented rosters they’ve ever had. And with this, I strongly believe after the upcoming season, a majority of the Blue's current roster will be playing in the NBA.
With the Blue’s training camp roster announced on Thursday, we have finally gotten a look into how the lineup may shape up for the upcoming season. Currently, the roster seems to cover every aspect of on-court talent needed to be a possible championship contender in the upcoming season. Holding two of the most talented developing centers in the league, Amir Williams and Dakari Johnson, there is no doubt OKC will dominate the paint and wreak havoc on the scoreboard. Returning forwards Kameron Woods and James Carlton will have an opportunity to solidify the squad by providing leadership.
During the offseason, Oklahoma City traded for Xavier Henry, the guard who last played for the Santa Cruz Warriors. Henry will certainly be comfortable on the Blue’s roster, as he began his basketball career playing right in OKC for Putnam City High School. Henry will no doubt be an extreme asset to the Blue having valuable skills in rebounds and shooting from all ranges.
Adding more experience to the floor is Jannero Pargo, the 37 year-old NBA veteran who formerly played in the league for the Lakers, Raptors, Bulls, and Hornets. Though Pargo experiences challenges that every basketball veteran will go through, he still brings much needed leadership and experience to the Blue by assisting to develop their youngsters.
Who Is The Most Likely Call-Up?
Though the Thunder already have a multitude of forwards with raw and veteran talent, I strongly believe Xavier Henry’s skills could be of use to the Thunder. During his time playing for the University of Kansas, Henry averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game, and Henry has only improved since then. These stats, along with his 6’6 / 220 lb. build, could surely be of use on the defensive side of the court, as well as driving through the paint on offense. In addition to his stature, Henry holds league experience from his time with the Lakers and multiple years across other D-League clubs.
What Can We Expect From Dakari Johnson This Season?
There's absolutely no reason why this season couldn't be incredibly better than his first. As I said in a previous player spotlight on Ridiculous Upside, Dakari Johnson may very well be one of the best up and coming developing centers. Though last season his defensive talents were only sub-par, I can only imagine the offseason was spent solidifying his defensive role. In a sit down interview with Thunder coverage writer Nick Gallo, Dakari admitted he would be practicing on-court communication and properly participating in pick and role coverages. With his naturally large build, and some extra development resulting from this upcoming season, Dakari Johnson could truly be the master key to any teams defense as well as central offense.