NBA Daily: 2022-2023 Season Preview #4 – Oklahoma City Thunder
By Reylan Loberternos
Sat, 17 Sep 2022
In this limited 30-part series, we shall be discussing each team’s latest developments, current roster, and future prospects in the upcoming 2022-2023 NBA season. For every team, we will examine bit-by-bit the important aspects that may shape its progress and provide a rough projection of how it will fare vis-à-vis its previous year’s performance and versus the rest of the league.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
2021-2022 Season Win-Loss Record:
PG – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Theo Maledon, Tre Mann
SG – Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, Ty Jerome, Aaron Wiggins, Vit Krejci
SF – Luguentz Dort, Ousmane Dieng, Kenrich Williams
PF – Darius Bazley, Jalen Williams, Aleksej Pokusevski
CE – Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Derrick Favors, Jaylin Williams
Chet Holmgren – underwent surgery last August 30 to address a Linsfranc injury sustained during a Pro-Am event that will sideline him for the entire 2022-2023 NBA season.
General Manager Sam Presti has an eye for talent, but more so the ability to collect the means to acquire them. Over the years, the Oklahoma City Thunder has accumulated a slew of draft picks and young talent ever since they broke up the Durant-Harden-Westbrook trio many years ago.
When Oklahoma picked the highly-touted 7-foot unicorn Chet Holmgren 2nd overall in this year’s NBA Rookie Draft, many believed that it was now time for the franchise to reap what Presti sowed. Then the unfortunate incident at a Pro-Am game scratched all of that. Holmgren is expected to miss the entire 2022-2023 season and Sam Presti may yet again be looking to add another high-profile talent in next year’s draft via lottery.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was beginning to play at an All-Star level, while Josh Giddey showed his elite potential on both ends of the court last season. Gilgeous-Alexander’s well-rounded 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per contest were ably complemented by Giddey’s 12.5 markers, 7.8 boards, and 6.4 dimes on a nightly basis.
Luguentz Dort, who is considered as one of the NBA’s best wing defenders, has signed a 5-year deal worth $85 million to stay in Oklahoma. Undrafted in 2019, the 23-year-old Dort signed a two-way contract and emerged as a starter in the playoffs for OKC that season. His contract was then converted to a four-year minimum deal, but the Thunder did not pick up the team option for 2022-23 season in order to allow Dort to become a restricted free agent and negotiate a deal to stay in Oklahoma, which he eventually did.
Oklahoma City’s backcourt is solid, but its thin frontcourt leaves a lot to be desired. Holmgren would have vastly improved them on that front, but injuries are sometimes inevitable and often come with bad timing. However, on a positive note, this injury may just end up being a huge blessing in disguise.
French prospect Victor Wembanyama is projected to be the top prize in next year’s NBA Rookie Draft. Oklahoma City will have a legitimate shot at snagging him, while Holmgren is sidelined. A possible starting lineup of Gigeous-Alexander, Giddey, Dort, Holmgren, and Wembanyama is nothing short of scary, don’t you think?
Only time can tell if and when that eventually happens.
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