Looking into the Thunder


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The Oklahoma City Thunder’s season is just around the corner, catch up here.

Lathan Pearce, Staff Writer

Whether someone’s a die-hard Thunder fan, or hardly even keep up with the team, there’s one thing that doesn’t take much detective work to figure out: they are currently horrendous. With a combined 46 wins over the last two seasons out of a total of 154 games, the Thunder have missed out on the Playoffs the past two years. To put these losses into perspective, the Thunder only had a sub 46 win season once (with 2015 being a 45 win season in which injuries riddled the team all year, including their star player Kevin Durant) from 2009 to 2019.

While the Thunder are looking to continue the trend of not being a particularly successful team, there should be an easily identifiable growth in individual players, especially Josh Giddey

For Giddey, who averaged 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists, consistency from the outside is where fans would like to see the most improvement. Last year he only shot 26.3%, well below league average.

Sam Presti, the Thunder’s general manager understood this and brought in highly coveted shot-doctor, Chip Engelland from the San Antonio Spurs to help fix Giddey’s jumpshot. With the help from Engelland, who Giddey works out with two to three times a day since the hiring,  his shooting could be a huge story to look out for this upcoming season. 

Another player who could see a huge improvement this season is newly re-signed forward Luguentz Dort, who is now making around $17 million a year. While maybe his counting stats such as points could see a bit of a decline, it’s the defensive side of the ball where Dort could really shine once more this season. Last season, the offense was essentially Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort versus the world, with Giddey adding the playmaking. This left Dort playing a role that wasn’t where he shines. Defense is what Dort has been known for in his young career, so with a lessened offensive role, he should be able to return to the level of defense he was playing in the NBA Bubble (which was the NBA Playoffs the year of COVID-19) versus players like James Harden. 

Luckily for Dort, new draft pick, Jalen Williams might be just the guy for the job. Williams, who was drafted 12th in this years draft, looked way farther ahead than many initially anticipated during the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League. Williams averaged 13 points per game on an absurd 80 percent from three (which is quite a bit inflated due to the low sample size). If Williams can continue to put up similar numbers in the big leagues, he could really help Dort focus on defense rather than helping carry the load on offense

While the Thunder’s season may look like a disappointing one if people only look at the wins which will probably be around 20 to 30 wins out of 82 games, the individual players should shine through. Without Chet Holmgren who’s out for the season with a torn Lisfranc, the team might not be quite as exciting as it could’ve potentially been. However, this year’s team is the second youngest team in NBA history, only behind the Thunder’s team last season, so they’ll be hungry to prove themselves, setting up what could be a very electric season.

Contact Lathan Pearce at [email protected]