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The OKC Thunder Are Booming in Front of Our Eyes

Oklahoma City Thunder center Chet Holmgren (7) attempts a shot while defended by Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during overtime at Chase Center.

Down three with 1.7 seconds remaining, the broadcast panned on to Chet Holmgren’s startled look on the OKC Thunder bench after Andrew Wiggins drilled a three that gave the Golden State Warriors the lead. Holmgren – in only his 13th game of his career – then went back in for the final play, received the inbound pass, and turned around from the left corner to nail the overtime-forcing three. 

It was a booming shot showcasing the young Thunder’s ethos of persistence and tenacity. Holmgren personified this, as did MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, and the rest of the team. OKC is a bunch of on-court killers that are only growing in front of our eyes. 

The OKC Thunder Are Booming in Front of Our Eyes

Holmgren feels like the piece the Thunder have been missing since their resurgence last season. The seven-foot-one, lanky but glossy operator averages 17 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and almost one steal per game. 

His numbers look more impressive when coupled with his percentages. Holmgren shoots 56.5% from the field, 46% from the three, and 90.7% from the free throw line, which, if the season ended today, would make him the 10th player in NBA history to be a part of the coveted 50-40-90 club. 

Holmgren had his best game of his career against the Warriors, posting 36 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks, highlighted by his aforementioned game-tying three at the buzzer en route to the overtime win. 

It was a game that underscored a terrific week for the Thunder.

On Tuesday, they routed the San Antonio Spurs by having 12 players nail at least one three-pointer in the game to tie the NBA record. On Thursday, OKC’s bench put up 50+ points, 15+ assists, and 10+ threes on zero turnovers, becoming the first team ever to post those numbers in a game to bag the first of a miniseries with the Warriors. Again on Sunday, they became the first team since the three-point introduction to shoot 60% on two-pointers, 60% on three-pointers, and 100% from the free throw line in a single game, dominating the Portland Trail Blazers. 

The Thunder also became the first team in the Western Conference to win 10 games this season, putting themselves in the top four of the standings. 

“Great maturity, great competitiveness, and mental toughness,” said head coach Mark Daigneault, who has been gaining buzz for the Coach of the Year nod, about their past week of games. “We started the trip the right way. A very business-like approach.”

Oklahoma City now has an offensive rating of 116.9 points, the eighth-best in the league, and a defensive rating of 108.4 points, the fourth-best. They currently rank second in net rating with a staggering +8.5 net. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has Reached Superstardom

With their early-season success, the Thunder’s competitiveness – even as the second-youngest team in the league – has hinged on the superstar rise of Gilgeous-Alexander. This season, he averages 29.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.8 assists while also providing some impact on the defensive end with 0.8 blocks and a league-leading 2.5 steals per game. 

There is no better play to encapsulate his defensive prowess than this block on Stephen Curry in overtime.

For someone as great as him, the numbers could not quite capture the level of play he has been delivering for the Thunder. He looks like a reaper on the court, pulling the rug from under his defenders, knocking down tough, even arduous shots, and supplying a superstar-level lift for the team whenever necessary. 

Gilgeous-Alexander is simply phenomenal. In the second half of their overtime game versus the Warriors, he shot 14-for-19 from the field and poured 32 of his total 40 points in one of the most exhilarating performances from a guard this season. 

Jalen Williams is an All-Star in the Making

Second-year player Williams has been superb, too, averaging 17.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. He has been a great reliever when Gilgeous-Alexander sits and a solid team player when he plays alongside him.

As the Thunder faithful call him, J-Dub has All-Star potential that should complement what OKC has built for the future. Williams may still be young, but what he brings to the table for Oklahoma City is beyond his years.

The trio of Gilgeous-Alexander, Holmgren, and Williams has been a force to be reckoned with. It is the kind of complementary combo that should create havoc in the league as soon as now. Followers of the Thunder know their success as a future potent trio is far from a long shot. 

Not to mention, the guys like Isaiah Joe, who has been scorching hot from three shooting 50% this season, Luguentz Dort, Josh Giddey, Cason Wallace, and Kenrich Williams, have all carved their spot in the Thunder’s ship. 

The OKC Thunder are a bunch of guys who should be destined for success. After years of tanking and badly losing, the young ones of the Thunder have truly arrived. 


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