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Grinding Through the Season: Thunder Edition with Chris Hanneke

The regular season hasn't quite started out the way Thunder fans had hoped. Can the Thunder remain in the playoff picture while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook recover from injury? Which players will ultimately step up their game to alleviate the loss of their superstars? What can we expect to see Friday night when the Grizzlies travel to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder? Welcome to Loud City writer Chris Hanneke joins us to answer all of these questions and more!

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Fractured... Broken...

These words might currently apply at many levels and to various degrees concerning the present state of the Thunder organization.

Kevin Durant's fractured foot is keeping him out at least a month.  Although immediate negativity arose, the general reaction to this devastating news ultimately shifted to anxiousness - an eagerness to learn just how Russell Westbrook would fare in a larger leadership role as the Thunder's primary superstar.

It didn't take long for Westbrook's right hand to suffer a break of its own.  And this, in turn, instantly broke the hearts of many Thunder fans.

Ironically, the Grizzlies faced a somewhat similar situation last season, minus the simultaneous timeframe.  Marc Gasol and Mike Conley took extended turns on the disabled list during the regular season last year.  When the latter returned to the lineup and the Grizzlies returned to full form, Memphis went on a run that ultimately landed them the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Even if the Thunder's present state doesn't represent the ideal situation for the Thunder organization, it doesn't mean the ultimate outcome will be as bleak.  The season isn't totally lost, and maybe we all will now get a chance to analyze the true value that the James Harden trade brought to the Thunder.

Will they still be in the playoff chase when Durant and Westbrook return?  Did they make the right decisions and do enough during the offseason to improve their roster and extend their growth as an organization?  Who is going to step up in their superstars' absence?  As the Grizzlies make an appearance in Oklahoma City Friday night for their first encounter this season with the Thunder, what can we expect to see, and what do we need to watch for?

Welcome to Loud City writer Chris Hanneke is very kind to provide us some valuable insight into the Thunder's current situation and his expectations of Friday night's game with the Grizzlies from his point of view.