Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder offseason recap: Grades, preseason tier, adjustments, finish of 2022-23 objective

September 19, 2022

The NBA offseason! It feels prefer it by no means stops. Besides right here’s the factor: I believe we bought to a spot the place it’s mainly over and we’re simply treading water till we get to coaching camp towards the top of September. Positive, we would get a commerce request from a disgruntled star participant earlier than we get to preseason, and that request may be permitted by his incumbent workforce. For essentially the most half, it seems like we all know the place the free brokers are and the place rosters stand heading into subsequent season.

With that, I assumed it was an excellent time to take a look at how rosters modified and what it means for all 30 NBA groups. We are able to try this by inspecting what occurred to them final season, how their 4 teams of gamers (lead guards, wings, forwards, and bigs) modified this summer time, whether or not or not the workforce bought higher, how they discover success with the brand new group, and provides them an general grade for the summer time. Additionally, we’ll carry you an area or nationwide skilled to reply three urgent questions on this workforce.

How an offseason ended up for every workforce is determined by what their objectives are for establishing their group of men. These are the statuses obtainable for the 30 groups:

  • Rebuilding franchise
  • Uninterested in rebuilding franchise
  • Play-In Event offers them life
  • Playoff hopeful
  • Getting ready to competition
  • Contender
  • Championship or bust

Immediately, we’re breaking down the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder (24-58 final season), who all of us surprise if they’ve a restrict to tanking/rebuilding.


General grade from the offseason: B
Staff standing: Rebuilding Franchise

What occurred final season?

The Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder tanked. Wait, I’m sorry that’s a foul phrase. I shouldn’t use the T phrase. The Thunder discovered themselves in a protracted, sluggish rebuilding course of, and so they had but to start the successful portion of mentioned course of. The Thunder have been aggressively rebuilding for a pair years now, and we’ve been keeping track of their younger gamers as Sam Presti continues to pickpocket first-round draft picks left and proper. This previous season was no completely different. We bought to see Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for 56 video games, however accidents and different issues stored him from enjoying a lot of the marketing campaign. Lu Dort continued his emergence and averaged greater than 17 factors per recreation (inefficiently, however I’m nonetheless unsure how many individuals had him doing that in a season).

The attention-opening second for the Thunder final season got here with their lottery decide Josh Giddey. Extremely scrutinized as a prospect and a decide, it didn’t take lengthy for Giddey to show some heads. Whereas his capturing and shot making nonetheless wants quite a lot of work, he was good at passing, setting guys up and discovering his approach into the center of the protection. Outdoors of that, accidents and well being and security protocols brought about the Thunder to roster 23 gamers for no less than 4 video games final season and 26 gamers general. By the point we bought to March, it was an absolute slog. Nevertheless, this workforce was high 20 in defensive ranking, which is a formidable little bit of teaching by Mark Daigneault.

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Positional adjustments

We could have some quibbles over which gamers belong in particular teams, however I’m simply going with my general impressions of the place they did belong and the place they most likely will belong subsequent season. Not ordered within the anticipated depth chart. Additionally, lot of offers are executed on draft evening the place a participant is drafted by one workforce for a commerce directed by their commerce associate. So we’re doing catch-alls for gamers acquired on draft evening as drafted by their present workforce. It’s simply simpler that approach.

Make sure to try David Aldridge’s workforce offseason rankings with the Thunder clocking in at No. 8.

Modifications to OKC’s Lead Guards

Lead Guards 2021-22 Gamers 2022-23 Gamers

1

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

2

Tre Mann

Tre Mann

3

Theo Maledon

Theo Maledon

4

Ty Jerome

Ty Jerome

(Lead guards are simply thought-about the principle initiators from the backcourt place.)

Transactions: None

Did OKC enhance right here? The Thunder don’t have any actual adjustments on the lead guard place, apart from some (hopeful) improvement from guys like Ty Jerome, Tre Mann and Theo Maledon. If Gilgeous-Alexander stays wholesome (or wholesome sufficient) for a complete season, then this group shall be actually good simply off that. However we didn’t see any alterations to this group … for now.

Modifications to OKC’s Wings

Wings 2021-22 Gamers 2022-23 Gamers

1

Josh Giddey

Josh Giddey

2

Lu Dort

Lu Dort

3

Kenrich Williams

Kenrich Williams

4

Aleksej Pokusevski

Jalen Williams

5

Aaron Wiggins

Aleksej Pokusevski

6

Isaiah Roby

Ousmane Dieng

7

Melvin Frazier

Aaron Wiggins

8

Vit Krejci

Eugene Omoruyi

9

x

Vit Krejci

(Wings will do some playmaking, however they’re largely there to get their job executed from the perimeter in varied scoring or 3-and-D roles.)

Transactions: Drafted Jalen Williams with twelfth decide | Re-signed Lu Dort (5 years, $82.5 million) | Drafted Ousmane Dieng with eleventh decide | Waived Isaiah Roby | Signed Eugene Omoruyi to two-way | Signed Kenrich Williams to extension (4 years, $27.1 million)

Did OKC enhance right here? I really like what the Thunder did within the draft in grabbing Jalen Williams and Dieng. Whereas Dieng seems like a undertaking who will spend a ton of time within the G League, Jalen Williams shall be able to play instantly. You possibly can slot him subsequent to SGA and Giddey to kind a really dynamic perimeter assault. He was certainly one of my 5 favourite gamers within the 2022 draft, and so they bought him on the again finish of the lottery. The Dort contract is an overpay for now, and his scoring numbers final yr have been merely a product of “someone has to get these pictures up,” nevertheless it’s not loopy to suppose he justifies that contract along with his protection and just a bit little bit of offensive enchancment. The Kenrich Williams extension has an opportunity to be some unbelievable worth in a yr or two.

Modifications to OKC’s Forwards

Forwards 2021-22 Gamers 2022-23 Gamers

1

Darius Bazley

Darius Bazley

2

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

3

x

Jaylin Williams

(Larger guys who aren’t fairly wings throughout the board, however they’re not persistently enjoying sufficiently big to get the full-time “huge” distinction.)

Transactions: Drafted Jaylin Williams with thirty fourth decide

Did OKC enhance right here? The Thunder bought slightly higher right here, and much more complicated. It’s not complicated that they chose Jaylin Williams early within the second spherical. He’s a first-round expertise with the potential of being fairly stable throughout the rotation. It’s complicated that they’ve two rookies with a variation of the title Jaylin (or Jalen) Williams.

Modifications to OKC’s Bigs

Bigs 2021-22 Gamers 2022-23 Gamers

1

Derrick Favors

Derrick Favors

2

Mike Muscala

Mike Muscala

3

x

Chet Holmgren

(The massive fellas; it’s fairly self-explanatory.)

Transactions: Drafted Chet Holmgren with the second decide | Derrick Favors picked up his participant possibility ($10.1 million) | Re-signed Mike Muscala (two years, $7 million)

Did OKC enhance right here? Sadly, we gained’t see this enchancment till the 2023-24 season due to Holmgren’s summer time damage that can maintain him out for the season. It is going to be enjoyable to see how the Holmgren expertise works. He performs everywhere in the flooring and can finally simply be a giant man with superb expertise. Though, maybe for body-preserving functions, they’ll use him subsequent to a different huge man.



Will Lu Dort’s offensive enchancment proceed in 2022-23? (Matt Marton / USA Immediately)

Did the workforce get higher?

I like the place the Thunder rebuilding course of is after this offseason. They have been hoping to seize a franchise man, and so they imagine they’ve executed that with Holmgren. I additionally love what they did with the immense quantity of picks at their disposal. Each of the Williams rookies must be enjoyable improvement tasks, and Dieng has some good upside as effectively. However this entire factor has a damper on it after the Holmgren damage. Having to attend a yr to see him make his actual debut is disappointing.

What does it imply for subsequent season?

I believe we’ll proceed to see quite a lot of what we noticed final season. Jalen Williams has an opportunity to do what Giddey did, which is flip quite a lot of heads instantly. He can actually play, and that’s going to be a enjoyable focus for the followers with Holmgren on the mend. Plenty of this season goes to be about growing a few of these younger guards (Mann, Jerome and Maledon all must take a step ahead) to see how this future shakes out a bit. We’re going to get extra time for Darius Bazley to be a difference-maker within the context of what this workforce can do. In fact, wanting on the development of Aleksej Pokuševski, each from a bodily and ability standpoint, might additionally help to only how excited persons are for the way forward for this workforce.

Nevertheless, the Thunder have been speaking a few sluggish method even previous to the Holmgren information. It’s honest to surprise in the event that they even need Gilgeous-Alexander to have a full season or in the event that they’re extra taken with grabbing Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson to pair with this group. My guess is it’s the latter, and there’s an excellent likelihood the Thunder shut some good gamers down sooner or later to maintain the lottery odds as excessive as attainable. Hopefully, it’s only one extra yr of this.


Three fast questions with Andrew Schlecht, Thunder guru/podcaster for The Athletic

How huge of a blow is the Chet Holmgren damage to what this season was alleged to be? 

From an leisure standpoint, it’s a significant blow. Holmgren is exclusive along with his mixture of dimension and ability, and within the open courtroom, he’s should see TV. Pairing that with Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey, the Thunder have been destined to be League Move favorites for the die-hard fan. From a wins and losses standpoint, I’m not so positive he was going to influence the Thunder significantly. Most rookies, particularly rookie bigs, sometimes don’t influence wins and losses. However this reply may be simply as a lot about Holmgren’s alternative as it’s about Holmgren. Do they maintain Favors and play him? Do they play small with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl? Can Muscala play greater than quarter-hour a recreation? These are the type of questions you ask your self in relation to the middle place for OKC. Holmgren would have introduced capturing, rim safety and perhaps extra necessary than each of these, gravity. Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t at present have a co-star with gravity on the courtroom. Dort will shoot, however groups will let him (do you know he took 7.7 3s a recreation?!) Giddey is enjoyable with the ball in his palms, however capturing may be his weakest attribute. Anticipate one other season of robust pictures from SGA and a backside of the barrel Thunder offense.

Some imagine it is a good alternative for SGA and Giddey to develop chemistry, which might be true. However Holmgren would have been the final word hyperlink between the 2 offensively along with his capturing and skill to complete across the rim. Whereas he could haven’t impacted successful to a big diploma, it does set the chemistry again. That would show to push the Thunder again one other yr from playoff/Play-In competition.

What’s the perfect closing lineup for the Thunder in the event that they’re attempting to win a recreation?

I really like the caveat on the finish of this query. The Thunder shall be “attempting to win video games” at first of the season. Sam Presti’s phrase is “letting the workforce declare themselves.” The actual fact stays that they’ve a median age of twenty-two.7 years outdated, which is the youngest workforce within the NBA. Profitable shall be an uphill battle. With that mentioned, right here is the perfect five-man lineup:

• Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
• Josh Giddey
• Lu Dort
• Kenrich Williams
• Mike Muscala

That is the trio of their greatest younger gamers (SGA, Giddey, Dort) with the adults within the room (Kenrich and Muscala). Muscala offers flooring spacing for Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey, whereas Kenrich Williams and Dort are the Thunder’s model of the Bash Brothers. It is a excessive IQ unit that additionally competes at a excessive stage. This five-man lineup solely performed 38 possessions collectively final season in accordance with Cleansing the Glass, however they have been a whopping +37 in that point. The Kenrich Williams/Muscala PF/C combo have been a +17.6 for the season in 636 possessions collectively. They are going to make errors due to their age, however this lineup presents some good flexibility on each ends and first rate spacing for Gilgeous-Alexander to get within the lane with regularity.

Can we anticipate a full season (70-plus video games) from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander? 

It is a loaded query. Initially, can SGA bodily play 70 video games? He performed 56 video games final season, and sat the ultimate 10 video games with proper ankle soreness. Within the earlier season he solely performed 35 of 72 video games, and missed the ultimate 29 video games with a big plantar fascia tear. Nevertheless, in his first 2 seasons he didn’t miss a recreation due to damage. There is no such thing as a doubt the Thunder have been being cautious with SGA the final 2 seasons, and they need to have been. That is the closest factor they must a franchise participant. Are the Thunder able to push this workforce ahead with SGA, Dort, Giddey, and Chet returning in 2023? I wouldn’t go there but.

The following query is how dedicated are the Thunder to acquiring a high 5 decide within the 2023 NBA Draft? I might look no additional than the common age of the workforce, 22. The one different workforce to have a median age underneath 23 prior to now decade is final season’s Thunder. Younger groups lose, and with OKC bringing in 4 rookies, they’re betting on that. The 2023 draft holds quite a lot of hope for groups choosing within the high 5. With gamers like Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, Cam Whitmore and the Thompson twins, you may wager the Thunder have their eyes on this draft.

However you may’t assist however surprise what a workforce led by Shai, Dort and Giddey can do in the event that they performed a full season. They needed to maintain the workforce again the final 2 seasons to get a backside 5 document. The ultimate two weeks of final season they performed a man named Georgios Kalaitzakis 48 minutes per recreation to get themselves to a 24-58 document. If they’d performed Shai in each recreation attainable, the place would they’ve landed within the standings? I’m not suggesting that the Thunder are a Play In workforce, however might they win 31 video games? Thirty-three video games? I don’t suppose that’s unattainable. However I predict the Thunder’s urge for food for high 5 picks will stay intact, and they’re going to gobble up one other one in June. So will Shai play 70+ video games this season? I wouldn’t wager on it.

Staff standing objective by finish of 2022-23: Rebuilding Franchise

(Prime photograph of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Alonzo Adams / USA Immediately)