Can the Oklahoma City Thunder make another jump in 2023-24? OKC made a huge jump last season, going 40-42 and reaching the Western Conference play-in tournament as the No. 10 seed. The Thunder won 22 and 24 games in the first two seasons of Mark Daignneault’s tenure.
2023-24 NBA Power Rankings Offseason Edition: No. 14 Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City’s plus 19.6 percentage points was the second-largest in the NBA last season, behind only the Sacramento Kings. The Thunder have the greatest upside of all the NBA’s young teams.
Oklahoma City finished in the league’s top half in offensive and defensive ratings last year. The Thunder, who played the sixth fastest pace, were explosive offensively as they averaged 117.5 points a game — fifth most in the league.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has developed into one of the league’s lead guards and is coming off a season. Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 31.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.0 blocks in 2022-23. He also produced one of the best shooting seasons of his career with a slash line of .510/.345/.905.
Gilgeous-Alexander is hardly the only reason the Thunder are on the rise. Josh Giddey, playing for Australia in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, made significant strides offensively last year. 2022-23 first-team All-Rookie selection Jalen Williams was tremendous last year. Isaiah Joe had a breakout season, while Alsekej Pokusevski was poised to have a career season before suffering a non-displaced tibial plateau fracture in December. Pokusevski returned to the team late in the season but suffered a minor right humerus fracture during an off-season workout in June.
Tre Mann, Jaylin Williams, and Ousmane Dieng are talented youngsters who could see plenty of minutes this year. I haven’t even gotten to the Thunders newcomers. Chet Holmgren, 2023-24 ROY candidate, projects to have a major impact on both ends of the floor. 2014 second-round draft pick Vasiljie Micic finally decided to come over from Europe, and the Thunder traded up in the draft for Cason Wallace.
Best Offseason Move: Signing Vasilijie Micic
Oklahoma City made a plethora of moves this off-season. Some of the moves will help the team, while others will solidify salary cap considerations.
Of the Thunder’s newcomers, Holmgren projects to have the greatest impact on the Thunder. However, he is not eligible for this honor since he was drafted by the Thunder in 2022. So, that leaves Micic, who should be a major contributor off the bench.
Micic is one of the most decorated European players to come over to the NBA. The 6-foot-9 Serbian sensation, a two-time Europe Player of the Year, is a wizard with the ball. He is an outstanding scorer and playmaker. Micic played in Turkey for Anadolu Efes for the last five seasons.
The 29-year-old guard averaged 16.1 points, 4.9 assists, and 2.5 rebounds in 62 games last year. He also drained 2.4 three-pointers while compiling a shooting slash line of .472/.399/.888.
Micic signed a three-year, $23.5 million pact with the Thunder on July 17.
Worst Offseason Move: Not Applicable
While I don’t believe OKC made any earth-shattering moves this offseason, with Micic’s signing being possibly the lone exception, they also didn’t make any terrible deals. However, all the Thunder’s moves have created a numbers problem for them, with 19 players with standard contracts. The Thunder have cut that number by two with the recent waiving of TyTy Washington and Monday’s announcement of Usman Garuba being cut. Neither player was expected to make the club anyway, so might as well give them time to hook up with another team.
Arguably the worst move that the Thunder made was trading for Victor Oladipo, who is on an expiring $9.4 million deal. Oladipo tore his patella tendon during Miami’s first-round series against Milwaukee. Oladipo may not be available to play this year. However, the Thunder only had to send out cash for the veteran guard and a couple of future second-round picks.
What’s Next for the Thunder? Getting Down to 15 Players
As stated above, OKC got down to 17 players on Monday afternoon. But they announced the signing of Olivier Sarr to a two-way deal later on in the day.
Joe and Aaron Wiggins have non-guaranteed contracts. However, The Oklahoman Joe Muscatto believes both players are safe. Muscatto gave his opinion, saying that Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Jack White, and Oladipo will likely not be with the club on opening day.
Robinson-Earl has been with the Thunder for the past two seasons. He has been an end-of-rotation player for them and has performed reasonably well. The 23-year-old is athletic and a good defensive rebounder who can score a little.
OKC now has one training camp spot open. The Thunder will reportedly add Caleb McConnell to an Exhibit 10 deal.