LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 04: Luguentz Dort #5, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 and Kenrich … [+]
Following a second-straight season with less than 25 wins, the Oklahoma City Thunder were set to take a huge step forward in the 2022-23 campaign. They selected three players in the lottery of the 2023 NBA Draft, including Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 overall selection.
Following a season-ending foot injury for Holmgren, the outlook for the upcoming season feels much less optimistic.
With that in mind, Oklahoma City shouldn’t be the worst team in the NBA by any stretch.
The teams near the bottom of the league around the Thunder should be the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers. When looking at the roster composition of each of these teams, Oklahoma City has the best headliner.
Face of the franchise Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the best player on any of these rebuilding teams. Additionally, the Thunder have another rising guard in Josh Giddey who is already one of the best passers in the entire NBA.
Thunder GM Sam Presti even said before the 2023 NBA Draft that OKC would be better this season due to returning players, not the rookies.
“The improvement from our team [next season] will come from the existing players,” said Presti at the close of the 2021-22 season.
All things considered, what should fans across the league expect from Oklahoma City this season?
Over the past two seasons, the Thunder have been near the bottom of the NBA standings with just over 20 wins.
This feels right considering the team should be better with an improved returning cast and two new rookies taken in the lottery.
Only four teams are projected to win fewer games, meaning odds tell us the Thunder are expected to finish fifth in final lottery odds at the end of the season.
It feels as if the 2023-24 season will be the one in which Oklahoma City takes that next big step. There’s a real chance the Thunder roll Holmgren out with another top-three prospect in effort to take a large leap in the standings.
Last season, Oklahoma City was 11-20 leading up to Christmas Day, which was on pace for a record of 29-53. As such, if the Thunder’s top players in Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey stay healthy all season, that’s more along the lines of where they likely finish. Last season both of them missed a good chunk of the year, especially following that Christmas milestone.
Assuming the team stays healthy, expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to finish with a record of somewhere in the ballpark of 28-54.