The Thunder are playing for nothing but a high draft pick. It’s a shame, because Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is already comfortably a top-30 player in the league and deserves to prove himself in the type of spotlight that only the playoffs can provide. While this team will be absolutely dreadful, rookie guard Josh Giddey and second-year forward Aleksej Pokuševski will flash moments of brilliance. The Thunder have a nice foundation, but it doesn’t seem like they have any immediate plans to try to win with it.
Best case scenario is that SGA, Giddey and Poku all take the next big step in their development. The Thunder have a lot of young, promising players, but these are the main three that the team is banking on. It would also be nice if they manage to do this while finishing with one of the worst records in the league for lottery odds purposes. The team landing a premium pick is going to be crucial for the rebuild and determining whether or not SGA will be here for the long haul, so finishing with a bottom three record is a must.
Worst case scenario is that this team is too good to be a bottom feeder but not good enough to be a serious contender. Being in the middle puts the team in a weird spot as to how they approach the upcoming offseason. The Thunder got unlucky this past lottery and finished with the sixth pick despite having the fourth-best lottery odds. The only way to prevent that from happening again is bottoming out to increase the chances of a top pick.
The most likely scenario is that SGA continues to show why he’s a borderline All-Star player while Giddey and Poku show promise as potential building blocks of the future. This team will likely finish with one of the worst records in the league due to youth and inexperience. The veterans on this team are not talented enough, unlike those of the last two Thunder teams, to impact the win total.
The most exciting thing about this season is to find out which of these young players develop and which don’t. The Thunder are currently in a position where winning doesn’t matter; discovering what they have with their young and inexperienced players is the top priority. There’s a good chance that by February, the team will not have a single rotation player in their 30s. Watching the team fully embrace the youth movement should spring optimism for the fanbase.
Paul Watson Jr.
Charlie Brown Jr.