The Oklahoma City Thunder lost plenty in the offseason. So much that you would think this team would decide to rebuild instead of trying to get a playoff spot. That is not the case as they are currently in seventh place in the Western Conference. Out of the two conferences, the West is the tougher conference but with the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors in a decline, the Thunder have been able to move into postseason consideration.
OKC made sure they received draft picks in the trades that they made with the LA Clippers and Houston Rockets but the players they received have panned out for them. Players like Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari were proven players before their stay in the Cinderella City but now they are helping keep this team afloat. Without their old superstars in Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the OKC Thunder are looking like a playoff team.
Without Former Stars, the OKC Thunder Are Currently in the Playoffs
Rebuilding the Team
When Westbrook and George decided to leave the Thunder they knew they had to get the bang for their buck. While they stockpiled picks they knew they could build something with the players they had. Chris Paul came from the Houston Rockets trade which sent Westbrook to the Rockets. In Paul, the Thunder knew they were getting a player that got to start his illustrious career in OKC. Paul’s leadership is guiding the team and helping them win games. He refuses to lose. On a November 2nd game against the New Orleans Pelicans in which the Thunder won he said, ” That losing stuff’s for the birds.” If OKC makes it to the playoffs, they were willed by Paul.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having a better year than his rookie year. If you were following his rookie year you would have seen flashes of greatness. His ability to shoot in traffic is above average and he can get to the rim anytime he wants. As of this writing, he is averaging 19.1 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game. That’s light years ahead of his 10.8 points per game with 2.8 rebounds per game his rookie year. If he keeps his ascension into a star going he will be the prime candidate to succeed Chris Paul in the future.
The OKC Thunder in recent years have not been good at shooting threes. With Danilo Gallinari out right now they are currently 21st in three-point shooting percentage. Last year they were 22nd. With Gallinari, they finally have a three-point shooter that can be feared behind the arc. He is averaging 18.0 points per game and is shooting 39.5 percent from deep. Right now he is shooting better from three percentage-wise than any player from last year. This team looks like it will make the playoffs with the players that they have acquired.
Goals for the Team
The OKC Thunder will not win it all this season but what they can do is try and get the fifth and sixth seed and scare a team in the first round. This team has a lot of draft picks in the future. They will have to try and package those picks and move up in the next couple of drafts to get a star player. They have been able to draft superstars before like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden who all won MVP. Now they will have to see if they still have that magic.
The future of Chris Paul is a big question. The trade deadline is a few months away. If things are going the way they are now, OKC will keep Chris Paul for the rest of the year.
He is not the only one. Gallinari may also be traded which will start their quest to rebuild. The next couple of months will tell a lot about this team but now they look like a playoff team in a tough conference.
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