The Thunder Look to Make Some Noise
Last season the Oklahoma City Thunder shocked many by making their play in the tournament. While they didn’t make it to the official post-season, they surpassed expectations, as many thought they would be one of the worst teams in the league. They ended up in ninth place in the killer Western Conference and this despite losing their top draft pick Chet Holmgren, taken #2 overall, for the season with an injury. OKC is loaded with young talent and they may make some noise this season. Get NBA odds and the point spread for NFL games this week at The Game Day.
One of the main reasons the Thunder were a surprise last season was the play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He came to OKC after a good rookie season with the LA Clippers, where he averaged 10.8 ppg. The major gains in the trade were the five first-round picks the Thunder received and while Gilgeous-Alexander was a good addition he wasn’t the main crux of the deal that sent All-Star Paul George to LA.
Gilgeous-Alexander continued to get better over the seasons and last season he took a huge leap to superstar status. At only 25 years old, he really lit things up making the All-NBA First Team averaging 31.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.5 assists per game, and shot 51% from the floor. He’s a dynamic young player and will be sticking around for a while signing a huge contract that keeps him from being a free agent until 2027.
Getting it Right in the Draft
The Thunder are one of the youngest teams in the league and much of their success from last season came from the draft. The draft is always a hit-and-miss, as teams never know if a player will pan out. However, OKC has gotten it right in the draft over the last few seasons. In the 2022 draft they took Holmgren, who missed last season, and with the 16th pick, they took Jalen Williams, who averaged 14.1 ppg and made the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
There are still some unknowns with Holmgren yet to play but the 2021 draft could have been better. The Thunder had three picks in the first round and took Josh Giddey (#6), Alperen Şengün (#16), and Tre Mann (#18).
The team then traded Şengün to get more draft capital, getting two first-round picks from the Houston Rockets. Giddy had a legit rookie season (12.5 ppg) and last season was a key player averaging 16.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, and 6.2 assists per game. Mann took a little of a step back last season averaging 7.7 ppg after averaging 10.4 ppg in his rookie season but has been a solid rotation piece.
A Ton of Picks
Not only do the Thunder have a lot of young talent but they also have a bright future. In the next seven seasons, they have a whopping 35 draft picks including 15 in the first round. That draft capital could be valuable not only for picking young players but as trade assets, which OKC needs, as they aren’t a team that attracts any major free agents. Not only are the Thunder poised to make some noise this season, but their future is very bright.
Cover Credits: NBAofficial