Now that it's official -- Nenad Krstic will become a member of the Thunder -- what can OKC fans expect? Will he equate to more wins? Or will it be more of the same?
First instinct says he has to make the team better. Otherwise, 1) Why would Sam Presti spend $15 million on him? and 2) He's definitely better than what the Thunder has already.
There's really one major question lingering on Krstic -- is his knee healthy and will he play like his old self? If he is, this could be pretty big. This team needs obvious help and Krstic fills one of the positions OKC needs the most help -- the low post. It seems the Thunder are functioning decently at three positions -- point guard, small forward and power forward. They aren't awesome at those spots, but they're good enough to win some games. And the best part is those three are young. But at center and shooting guard, OKC's getting next to nothing.
At center, OKC is getting about 16 points per game, 13.5 rebounds per game and a PER of 14.5. In other words, not very good. In 26 games before his knee injury, Krstic was averaging 16.4 ppg and 6.8 rpg. He's not a great rebounder, but he is what OKC needs -- a good scorer. He's a perfect pick and pop guy to work with Westbrook and he's also a nice post player that can score on the blocks. I feel alright (and by "alright," I mean "better") about a lineup that has:
SG Dead Body
SF Kevin Durant
PF Jeff Green
C Nenad Krstic
My feeling is that if OKC is a current "F," Krstic will take it to a "D". After watching this group play 32 games and see them win three, if nothing would have been done, I'm thinking the Thunder would win about 11-14 games. If that. But with a healthy Krstic, the Thunder could potentially push that number 15-20. One reason being because he could give a mental boost to the team. Right now, nothing feels right and losing appears to be the only option on a night-to-night basis. Adding a potential star to the fold could help the team break from this loser mentality and kind of give OKC a fresh start.
Now the obvious question remains what will happen to the roster now that Krstic is a part of it. This gives OKC three seven-footers (now that Steven Hill has been waived) -- 14 feet of it being pretty crappy. But there's an abundance in the blocks for the Thunder -- Joe Smith, Nick Collison, Chris Wilcox, Johan Petro, Krstic, Robert Swift, Mo Sene and even the injured D.J. White. Somebody has got to go. Maybe two of 'em. Maybe three.
Krstic will be formally introduced to the media today at 4 p.m. And he will likely be formally introduced to some of the worst basketball he's ever seen Wednesday night. But he's a good player and he fills a gaping hole for OKC. This is a big step in a 10,000 mile walk. But I see it as a pretty good one. And an absolutely necessary one.
Some highlights of OKC's new big man: