Season Review: Oklahoma City Thunder

As predicted in our season preview, the Thunder were always destined to fall into the draft lottery this year. No team made as many moves as the Thunder did in the off-season, as they discarded many of the members of the over-achieving group that made the playoffs in the bubble the previous year. In the end the Thunder finished with a 22-50 record, at the bottom of the Western Conference and never in contention for the playoffs - especially having lost 23 of their last 25 games (including a 14 game losing streak).

However, there is reason to be optimistic in OKC...

Firstly, they have a true star-in-the-making in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA improved upon his impressive sophomore year to turn in averages of 23.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.9 apg while shooting career highs with 50.8% FG & 41.8% 3P. Hopefully the plantar fasciitis injury that sidelined him for the last few months of the season won't linger into next year. If he comes in healthy, look for SGA to improve upon his excellent numbers from this year. 

Lu Dort also improved upon his rookie year, averaging 14.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg while increasing his 3P% from 29.7% in 2019-20 to 34.3% in 2020-21. News of his nose for defense has made the rounds in the league, and many of the league's top perimeter scorers have felt the wrath of the under-sized shooting guard's effort on the defensive end. He's a keeper in OKC.  

Another revelation for OKC was the play of Moses Brown after the All-Star break, as he averaged 9.7 ppg & 10.2 rpg while playing 24.7 mpg. His breakout game came on March 16th with a 20 point/16 rebound/5 block game versus Chicago, to be followed by a monster 21 point/23 rebound nine days later against Boston. Every team can use a player that averages 10 ppg/10 rpg while shooting 54.5% FG - count Brown as another young keeper for the Thunder. 

Lastly, rookie Aleksej Pokusevski showed some promise towards the end of the year, getting steadily better in the months of March, April & May. If he can gain some muscle mass over the summer, and come into next year with a better physique, he has the potential to turn himself into a player. A true risk/reward pick at 17th in last year's draft, there was serious progression for "Poku" and reason for optimism. Head coach Mark Daigneault had this to say

To think about where he was at the beginning of the season and then the way he played now is a true, tangible example of a player developing.

With so much young talent on the team, there is legitimate hope for the Thunder as they prepare for the future. They have a stockpile of draft picks which will help in their development - they can either use the draft to build from within, or trade the picks for key pieces. In the upcoming draft, the Thunder have three 1st rd. picks and two 2nds, to go along with two 1st round picks in the 2022 draft and four (FOUR!) in the 2023 draft. 

The future in OKC is bright indeed.