1.) What did the Thunder do over the summer?
Oklahoma City had a very quiet summer. Their ownership group is very concerned about the luxury tax, so at most, the Thunder can tinker around the edges. The draft saw them take a chance on University of Pittsburgh big man Steven Adams with the 12th overall pick and Andre Roberson from the University of Colorado with the 26th overall pick. They were forced to let bench leader Kevin Martin sign Minnesota, mainly due to salary concerns.
The most important Thunder action over the summer involved letting All-Star guard Russell Westbrook recover from a torn meniscus and the ensuing surgery. He missed all of pre-season after swelling in the knee developed, but he returned far before his original time table, starting a game this weekend.
2.) What is the Thunder's biggest strength and weakness?
The Thunder boast amazing star power in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, each considered in the top 15, if not top 10, players in the league. Couple those two with defensive stud Serge Ibaka and the Thunder boast an exceptionally top heavy squad. On a night in, night out basis, this is an incredible strength. TheThunder can simply overhwhelm opponents with talent.
This strength is directly related to their biggest weakness: depth. Reggie Jackson, Thabo Sefolosha, and Nick Collison are each solid rotation players, but the remainder of the roster is rife with questions. That's not to say it's an untalented group; Jeremy Lamb is exceptionally talented, as is Perry Jones, but neither of these players have seen significant game action to date.
3.) Which team stat might determine the game?
Points in the paint. Dallas has a hard time defending quick guards and Westbrook is one of fastest. He's also incredible strong, so he could very well feast on a Dallas back court which lacks a defensive stopper at the moment. Considering Monta Ellis is at his best when he's trying to get to the cup, how he fairs against a tall and defensive minded OKC front court bears paying close attention to. If he settles for long jumpers, Dallas may very well lost.
4.) What [stat/player/random thing] might surprise you about Oklahoma City?
The age of the Thunder players. Nick Collison and Derek Fisher are the squad's eldest players at 33 and 39. Kevin Durant, Westbrook, Jones, Jackson, and Lamb are all under 25. DeJuan Blair, Gal Mekel, and Jae Crowder are all at or under 25 as well, but none of those three possess the potential of any of those aforementioned Thunder players. It feels like the Mavs have been matching up with KD and Westbrook forever, but the truth is we may just be getting started.