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What Thunder Can Learn During 6-Game Preseason Slate

Professional basketball returns to Oklahoma in less than two months. It’s only the preseason, but during this six-game schedule we get to see Kevin Durant healthy again (hopefully), learn more about Billy Donovan’s coaching style and get an idea of what the Thunder’s rotation may look like.

Who’s going to start at shooting guard? Who’s going to start at center? Will Kyle Singler and Mitch McGary have a role on this team? With Russell Westbrook, Durant and Serge Ibaka being guaranteed starters, OKC has enough offensive weapons on the floor as it is, so starting Andre Roberson and Steven Adams wouldn’t be out of the ordinary.

But would Enes Kanter be fine with being the highest-paid sixth man? Kanter was remarkable on the offensive end during his short stint with the Thunder last season, contributing a career-high 18.7 points and 11 rebounds per game in 26 contests. The Thunder are certainly harder to guard with Kanter, but his defensive deficiencies can be covered much better by him coming off the bench. Also, Adams is a decent enough pick-and-roll player, so teams must guard him, too. We won’t know the answer until the regular season starts, but we should get a better idea before the preseason ends.

With that being said, the Thunder released their preseason schedule on Tuesday, and here are some things to know about each matchup.

Thunder at Minnesota, Oct. 7: Karl-Anthony Towns, the league’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, gets his first taste of NBA action against OKC. But he’s not the only top pick the Wolves have. Minnesota also has Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, the 2013 and 2014 No. 1 overall picks. With Wiggins, Towns, Ricky Rubio and dunk contest champion Zach LaVine, the Wolves have a young and talented team.

Thunder vs Fenerbahce Ulker, Oct. 9: When Enes Kanter was 16 years old, he became the youngest player in Euroleague history when he played for Fenerbahce in his home country of Turkey. But ever since then, the relationship between Kanter and the organization hasn’t been the same. After leaving Turkey, Kanter left to play college basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats. However, that dream was cut short because of the information Fenerbahce fed the NCAA, leading to his ineligibility. This one will clearly mean more to Kanter than anyone.

Thunder vs Dallas, Oct. 13 (in Tulsa): The Thunder continue their annual tradition of playing a preseason game in Tulsa. But this season they won’t play a game in Wichita.

Thunder at Memphis, Oct. 16: This could be the first meeting between Matt Barnes and Serge Ibaka after a public war of words this offseason, which was started by Barnes’s comment that he wants to fight Ibaka.

Thunder vs Denver, Oct. 18: This could be Durant’s return to Chesapeake Energy Arena against another NBA team for the first time in far too long.

Thunder at Utah, Oct. 20: Kanter will face two former teams this preseason. The last time he was in Salt Lake City, he roasted the Jazz organization and was promptly booed by the Jazz faithful. Expect the same to happen on this night from a Utah fan base that still boils at the mention of his name.

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