Oklahoma City Thunder 2022/2023 Season Preview
It was much of the same for the Thunder last season, with a group of developing talent matched with a front office that was hell bent on losing resulting in yet another foray into the upper echelon of the draft. Having said that, Oklahoma got their man at the top of their draft board and it gives Thunder fans a reason to continue watching games this season.
There has been five roster changes made heading into this season, four of which were made via the draft. Prized pick Chet Holmgren out of Gonzaga looked impressive and comfortable at the next level during Summer League, and while he will have his growing pains due to his lack of bulk, his combination of size, length and shooting is enough to make any fan’s mouth water. Despite a recent foot injury meaning he will miss his rookie campaign, other newcomers to the Thunder Ousmane Dieng (pick #11) and a pair of Williams’ (Jalen, #12 and Jaylin, #34) continue the theme of the Thunder acquiring young talent to build for the future.
It becomes difficult to predict the season for Oklahoma, mainly because you have a group of talented youngsters who all have substantial room for improvement in their games. Chet Holmgren red-shirting his rookie season will affect their overall win total, while Josh Giddey will look to avoid the sophomore blues and continue developing his game, especially his outside shooting.
Chet Holmgren (left) and Josh Giddey (right) are part of a developing core for Oklahoma City, despite Holmgren being expected to miss the season. Credit: Sporting News
Pair this with the continued development of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who I’m predicting could win Most Improved Player honours if he gets a nod for his first All-Star appearance and the Thunder have an improved record, and there reason for genuine optimism around the franchise. The fact the team signed Lu Dort to a 5-year/$87.5m extension this off-season also points to the fact they believe there is improvement left in his game.
Another factor making it hard to know where the Thunder end up though is their front office, who seem determined to tank for at least another season before they begin to start attempting to climbing up the standings. Despite the roster looking more or less balanced and being full of young talent, I’d expect the team to rest anyone who is even remotely sore or injured as the season goes on, helping the team under-achieve.
The addition of Chet Holmgren would have added intrigue and a bucket-load of talent to an already youthful and developing squad, which will be led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. There is no doubt the roster is better than last season on a talent basis, but a front office who seems to be biding their time before pulling the trigger on genuinely trying to win games, and Holmgren's likely extended injury absence, will likely hold this team back for at least another 12 months.
Ceiling: 10th seed.
Floor: 13th seed