Preview of the NBA 2021-22 season over Oklahoma City Thunder. Data, results from the previous season, a look at their squad and future free agents, the objectives of the course, the player to watch and a forecast on the franchise.
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Market movements: Transfer of Derrick Favors and renewals of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Mike Muscala (all movements here).
- Backcourt: Kenrich Williams, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort, Charlie Brown Jr., Vit Krejci, Theo Maledon, Ty Jerome, Tre Mann y Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
- Frontcourt: Derrick Favors, Mike Muscala, Aleksej Pokusevski, Darius Bazley, Gabriel Deck, Isaiah Roby y Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
This is how they face the season
Chris Paul’s departure for Phoenix less than a year ago plunged the Oklahoma City Thunder into a rebuilding process that was already on the horizon since the transfers of Paul George and Russell Westbrook. A period of transformation that, as everything points out, will last for one by of years.
Even so, the competitive spirit of the organization was maintained during the first months of competition. Before the market close, the Thunder compiled a 19-25 record that placed them 12th in the Western Conference. However, Sam Presti’s roadmap set another pattern: develop the youngsters, reap losses and rack up even more rounds of the draft.
In this way, the trade deadline marked a turning point. The Thunder traded George Hill, removed Al Horford from the rotation and sent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander home after sustaining a foot injury. From that moment the team only added three more victories out of 28 possible, presented a net rating of -18.5 points and fell in the rankings to collect the fourth worst record in the entire NBA. All this while the youngsters passed their first real competitive cooking test. Work done.
From here, it is difficult to make a real assessment of what the offseason has been in Oklahoma City. Success is for them, at this moment, an insubstantial and intangible concept. The 2021-22 season will not be linked to the requirement to achieve victories but neither to the identity development of the group, since many of its pieces they are in the air. It is, therefore, a mere transition year that will serve as an initial study object of the direction of the new project.
The truth is that the draft did not shed much light on the organization’s current affairs either. Fall from Top-5 it did not allow them to choose the main bigwigs and their constant attempts to climb the ranks returned continuous rejections. Thus, they finally bet on Josh Giddey with the sixth selection, a base molded to the current canons that requires time and work. An election that will be subject to close scrutiny as other names such as Jonathan Kuminga, Davion Mitchell, Alperen Sengun or James Bouknight have been imposed.
Beyond that, the current group makes up a large group of young people as diverse as they are unbalanced in terms of positions. The departure of Al Horford and Moses Brown has left the inside game desolate except for the arrival of Derrick Favors from Utah. A player who, due to seniority, does not fit into the project and aims to get out of it sooner rather than later. Therefore the eyes of the coaching staff and fans will focus on the evolution of Aleksej Pokusevski, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Darius Bazley, mainly. That the team requires a ‘5’ of guarantees is not, at the moment, a priority.
For its part, foreign gambling suffers from an excess of assets that is also presented as an opportunity. Coach Mike Daigneault will have the opportunity to test his pupils with various schemes, systems and approaches that seek to make the most of their qualities. And as well as to clarify which players have a place in the medium and long term and which do not. All this under the protection of a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who will maintain his hierarchy as a franchise player. Luguentz Dort will also have to take another step forward.
Ultimately, the Thunder have not improved their squad nor did they intend it. Sam Presti has pushed the rebuild switch in ‘Sam Hinkie Mode’ and agglomerates a succulent list of future rounds of the draft that he will have to manage to get juice to the project and steer it towards success.
For now, the goal is to aspire to pick 1 next year and use the other rounds as currency in various operations that allow them to aspire to recruit another star. Of course, competing each game and managing the squad in such a way that accumulating so many defeats does not suppose a bleak outlook for him either. young core of the team.
Oklahoma City fans, better times will come but from this 2021-22 season you can not expect anything other than to reap defeats, influence the new litter and lay the first stone of a new era.
The player to watch
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander understands a gamer paradigm alien to the current course of the project and the pieces that compose it. While the large roster of young people present in the dressing room will direct their efforts to show that they have a place in it in the long term, the guard he will carry a much greater responsibility on his shoulders at his 23 years of age.
He will be the undisputed leader of the team, both on and off the court, so not only will he be obliged to lead the bulk of the Thunder statistic, but he will also have to raise his voice within the young core. Indeed, his quality is beyond any doubt and now he will have to extend it in an increasingly established and visible role of franchise player.
With his height and length, Gilgeous-Alexander is capable of playing in a variety of different positions and roles. Two seasons ago he proved to perform very well alongside other generators such as Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder, while the past showed his ability to catalyze all the offensive weight. One more year, the bulk of scoring and creation will fall on his hands.
The challenge of facing another season in which losses will pile up on the doorstep of the newly renamed Paycom Center should not divert attention from what will be Gilgeous-Alexander’s main objective: to embrace his definitive leap to NBA stardom, confirm their status as visible head of the project, raise the roof of the team and promote the development of those players who end up forming part of the roster for years to come.
With a more extensive preseason, the same coach, a system already internalized and a role more than assimilated, this season can also serve for Gilgeous-Alexander to also begin to appear on the ledge of the All-Star Game.
NBA preview 2021-22 Oklahoma City Thunder, prediction
Elio Martínez, director of Trends Wide, leaves a personal and subjective forecast on what he thinks each franchise will do during the season in the NBA 2021-22 preview.
Ugh, very hard about these Thunder. If by names they do not say much, by plan They say less since, as Jacobo has explained in the previous paragraphs, the only objective of Oklahoma City in this 2021-22 is to lose the more games the better. Fifteenth (last) West is the most likely forecast.
Previous team analyzed: Detroit Pistons. Next team: Orlando Magic.
(Cover photo by Sarah Stier / Getty Images)