It’s a new year for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, who have both been with the Thunder as long as many can remember, moved on to different teams over the summer. Durant signed with Golden State, while Ibaka was traded to the Orlando Magic.
“It was definitely different going to training camp without Kevin," Thunder Veteran Nick Collison said when walking into training camp without Durant. “It’s a different feel with a lot of new faces.”
New. The reoccurring word and theme throughout media day.
"It’s a lot of new guys," said Head Coach Billy Donovan.
“I’m not exactly sure what it’s going to be like — so much change,” Collison added.
There are are 10 new players on the Thunder roster of 20. Of those 10, five are rookies.
One of those new faces is Victor Oladipo. Oladipo was traded to OKC in a deal that involved sending Ibaka to the Magic. It is expected that Oladipo will be a starter alongside Westbrook.
“I’m excited to win,” said Oladipo. “I feel like I'm here is because I've been more ready than I've ever been. There are no mistakes everything happens for a reason.”
Russell Westbrook, who is now the centerpiece of the team due to Durant’s departure, gave high praise to Oladipo and his abilities.
“We could be the best defensive backcourt in the league — me and Victor”, said Westbrook.
Oladipo had high praise for Westbrook when it was his turn to step up to the podium. He also agreed with him, and Westbrook could be the best defensive backcourt in the entire league.
“Last year I was thinking I've got to find a way to get in the gym with that dude. Now I'm in the gym with him every day," Oladipo said.
Along with Oladipo, the Thunder now have another new big man in Ersan Ilyasova. The 6-foot-10 forward from Turkey is looking forward to playing an offensive role this season. He also gave Westbrook praise for his energy.
“I’m not a big defensive guy but when my name is called, I will hit shots. (Westbrook) brings a lot of energy. (He's) almost impossible to guard at times”, said Ilyasova.
It’s a new team, and it’s a new game for the Thunder. Despite new faces, it was clear throughout media day that the team is excited and ready to get back at it.
“I am going to just play. Our expectations are the same every year: to win a championship,” Westbrook said.