Everyone wrote off the Thunder at the start of the year when they traded away Paul George to the LA Clippers and Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. The PG and Brodie experiment hadn’t worked out the way OKC had hoped it would. They faced a tough scenario. Do we try and add to this core and flirt with first round exits? Or do we blow it up and build for the future? The OKC Thunder are still a very good basketball team despite “cleaning house”.
Playing As A Unit.
Their current core consists of a 34 year-old Chris Paul, who will turn 35 this season, a 31 year-old Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, and their crown jewel, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. At first glance, this team is a bottom feeder in the stacked West. However, watching this team play is a treat for any basketball fan. They play hard on defense, they never give up (they were down 30 and nearly won last night), and they play as a unit. Chris Paul looks rejuvenated and is averaging 16.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 1.6 steals per contest. Paul isn’t the CP3 of old, but he is leading this squad to the tune of a 23-18 win/loss record.
What’s Their Ceiling This Season?
Realistically, I don’t see them making it further than the first round. Making the playoffs would be a heck of an accomplishment in itself though. The Thunder were not expected to be this good and only time the team was in the news was because of trade speculation involving their veteran assets Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari. The question remains, will they still look to flip those two before the trade deadline on February 7th? With the squad performing well they might hold on to them and see how far they can go before embarking on a full rebuild.
A Ton Of Flexibility.
In the Paul George trade, they received a foundational piece in Shai, a proven veteran in Gallinari, as well as a boatload of draft picks. 5 first-round picks to be precise. That is a great haul for a superstar that just didn’t fit in Oklahoma. We can’t undervalue the return they received for Russell Westbrook either. OKC was able to get one of the all-time great point guards to mentor their young guns, and 2 first-round picks. (One in 2024 and one in 2026) They can build through the draft, and not many teams have that luxury. They will also have a ton of cap space once their vets are off the books. The Future is bright for the Thunder but it has not yet arrived.
Featured photo credit: actonnetwork.com
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