Oklahoma City Thunder 2022-23 season preview

The Oklahoma City Thunder are still in the middle of a rebuild and were one of the worst teams last season. Between 58 total losses, they only recorded 24 wins. Among those wins were some promising games, though. Youngster Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led their way and solidified himself as one of the young players to watch next season..

Oklahoma City Thunder 2022-23 season preview

Draft

The 2022 draft was a big night for Oklahoma, as they ended it with three top 12 picks and one early second-round pick.

The biggest win of the night was getting Chet Holmgren as the second overall pick. Holmgren generated a lot of buzz leading up to the draft and was projected to go first. Everyone in and around the league had many expectations for the young phenomenon. Unfortunately, however, he will miss his rookie season due to a foot injury he suffered at the CrawsOver. This is a big disappointment for the Thunder, who were hoping that Holmgren would help them get their footing in the league back.

Besides Holmgren, the Thunder also drafted Ousmane Dieng, Jalen Williams, and Jaylin Williams in that order. All three will be able to test the NBA waters in the upcoming season and show what they can do.

Dieng is still raw and will need to adjust to the NBA’s physicality, but he has lots of potential. The 19-year-old is an underrated facilitator and defender who certainly has a high ceiling in the league.

Jalen Williams is readier to start playing in the NBA right now than Dieng is, but he might also have a lower ceiling. The former had a stellar Summer League performance and looks ready to get out there and play at the highest level.

Early in the second round, the Thunder picked Jaylin Williams. He can do all the little things well and can grow into a great supporting role player. It might take him a little longer than the other two to find his role on the team, though.

Considering the number of rookies and the talent, the Thunder have accumulated in this year’s draft, they have one of the best rookie classes in the league. Throughout the upcoming season, all available rookies will see plenty of playing time as the Thunder experiment with different lineups.

Offseason moves

Unlike the draft, the Thunder’s offseason was rather uneventful. They lost Isaiah Roby in free agency but extended Mike Muscala, Kenrich Williams. Most importantly, Lu Dort signed a five-year deal. Dort is an amazing defender and made a huge jump scoring wise last season and is a vital part of the Thunder’s rebuild.

 

Expectations

Adding to Holmgren’s injury, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander suffered a grade two left MCL injury.  Gilgeous-Alexander will reportedly miss the start of training camp. He should not miss significant time during the season, though. This is important for the team because he emerged as one of the most interesting young players in the league. In light of that, Gilgeous-Alexander is also the centerpiece of the Thunder’s rebuild.

The guard took a big leap last season to averaging 24.9 points, 5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. With only 24-years, he is still very young but one of the more experienced players on the roster. The up-and-comer will have to grow into his leadership role as he and Josh Giddey guide the young team along their way.

Giddey had a great rookie season and has a bright future in the league, which makes him the other centerpiece in the Thunder’s rebuild. It will be interesting to see how much better he can get next season.

The Thunder are the youngest team in the league, dynamic and versatile. They offer a glimpse of what the NBA’s future could look like in a couple of years.

It should certainly be fun to watch the Thunder next season, even if they will not be very successful. The young team will need time to grow and develop, after all. To guarantee this development, pretty much everyone will see plenty of playing time.

They seem to have a great chemistry going already, though, as Jalen and Jaylin are already posing together for memes.

Now, that Chet Holmgren is out, the Thunder might try to tank again rather than compete and pick up some more young talent in the next draft. On the other hand, they might also just see how far they can go and then throw Holmgren in the mix next season.

Despite the early blow his injury brought, there is still much for Oklahoma fans to be excited about, as they will get to watch the young talent develop and grow into their roles.