Oklahoma City Thunder 2022-23 NBA Preview: Key injuries have OKC watching the lottery again

By | September 29, 2022

Simply whenever you thought the Thunder have been able to emerge from their two-year reservoir as one of the thrilling younger groups within the NBA, the harm gods decreed that Oklahoma Metropolis would spend yet another yr on the lottery floor. 2 general choose Chet Holmgren lit up the Summer season League … then suffered a season-ending harm in a pro-am recreation. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander appeared prepared for his first All-Star look … then he suffered an MCL sprain. No surprise the Thunder detained people hero Aleksej Pokusevski excluding EuroBasket. They might now not threat losses. They will see a whole lot of that on the scoreboard over the subsequent seven months.

It will not hassle the Thunder that a lot, after all. We’re speaking a few group that presently has 15 first-round picks spanning the subsequent seven drafts. They will not say no to a couple extra ping pong balls, particularly after they may commerce Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson. However that tempers a number of the enjoyable this season may have supplied.

So what’s going to Oklahoma Metropolis’s last hole yr seem like? With Holmgren out and Gilgeous-Alexander hobbled, what’s to look at on one of many NBA’s youngest rosters? Listed here are three key storylines as Oklahoma Metropolis embarks on what’s going to hopefully be its final tank for an extended, very long time.

Key adjustments

  • Drafted No. 2 Chet Holmgren, No. 11 Ousmane Dieng, No. 12 Jalen Williams and No. 34 Jaylin Williams.
  • Signing of Lu Dort for a five-year, $87.5 million extension.
  • Signing of Kenrich Williams for a four-year, $27.2 million extension.

Itemizing

Participant

Place

Age

Darius Bazley

Ahead

22

Ousmane Dieng

Ahead

19

Luguentz Dort

Ahead

23

Derrick’s favors

Heart

31

Melvin Frazier Jr.

Guardian

26

Josh Giddey

Guardian

19

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Guardian

24

Jaylen Treasure

Ahead

23

Chet Holmgren

Ahead

20

Ty Jerome

Guardian

25

Georgios Kalaitzakis

Ahead

23

Vit Krejci

Guardian

22

Theo Maledon

Guardian

21

Tre Mann

Guardian

21

Mike Muscala

Heart

31

Eugene Omoruyi

Ahead

25

Aleksej Pokusevsky

Heart

20

Jeremiah Robinson Earl

Ahead

21

Lindy WatersIII

Ahead

25

Aaron Wiggins

Guardian

23

Jalen Williams

Ahead

21

Jaylin Williams

Ahead

20

Kenrich Williams

Ahead

27

High of the important thing: Shai, it isn’t so

Up to now, the Thunder have solely mentioned Gilgeous-Alexander can be out for the beginning of coaching camp. Past that, we’ll simply have to attend and see. He suffers from a sprained MCL, a tough harm that hampers some gamers longer than others. A useful Reddit put up from 2018 tracked the size of absences of a number of gamers with an MCL sprain and located that they differed wildly. On this group, one return arrived as rapidly as 34 days and one other took as much as 75 days. Usually, the lead time is about six or seven weeks. That is the time Kevin Durant missed with the identical harm a season in the past.

Extra importantly, that is the third consecutive season that has began or ended with harm for Gilgeous-Alexander, who has performed simply 91 video games over the previous two seasons. Granted, a few of these missed video games may stem from a…um…abundance of warning because the Thunder have been…as an example out of playoff competition, however the 24-year-old guards are sometimes working out of time attributable to decrease again accidents. our bodies are by no means an excellent signal.

The Thunder will certainly be cautious once more this season. With Holmgren already out, the play-in just isn’t an inexpensive objective. However as soon as Gilgeous-Alexander is again, it will be encouraging to see him play all season and put a few of these accidents behind him.

Subsequent cease: Giddey with pleasure

The (very mild) silver lining of the absence of Gilgeous-Alexander? Extra ball dealing with duties for 2021 No. 6 choose Josh Giddey. This is a enjoyable reality for you: Giddey, with simply 54 video games beneath his belt, already ranks third in Thunder historical past with 4 profession triple-doubles. He’ll surpass Kevin Durant’s seven sooner or later this season, and whereas he nonetheless has an extended technique to go to achieve Russell Westbrook’s 138, count on to see him slowly chip away on the 2017 MVP lead over the course of the season. of the subsequent few years.

Giddey’s taking pictures ought to go nicely with legendary taking pictures coach Chip Engelland becoming a member of the workers. He’ll possible additionally enhance as a rebounder as his physique continues to fill out. However the primary attraction right here is the overtaking. I imply…what’s a protection speculated to do about it?

There is just one different 6-8 ahead within the NBA who constantly goes blind by means of 4 defenders and he wears No. 23 for the Lakers. Giddey could not have LeBron’s athletic presents, but it surely will not be lengthy earlier than he claims James’ two-decade-old title because the NBA’s high passer.

Yet one more factor: everybody will get an extension!

There have been just a few raised eyebrows when the Thunder gave stalwart defenseman Lu Dort an $87.5 million five-year extension. They did not must pay it straight away. With a group choice on the books for this season, they might have stored him cheaply and handled him a yr from now. Later within the offseason, they inked Kenrich Williams, who was additionally incomes subsequent to nothing by NBA requirements, to a four-year extension. Gilgeous-Alexander has simply began a five-year extension. A development is rising right here.

The Thunder have so many younger gamers they are going to finally need to pay that they appear to have taken a proactive but conservative method to retaining their expertise: extending everybody as quickly as humanly potential to wager it’ll price them cheaper in the long term than letting these gamers entry the open market. Working example: Williams, a two-way wing who was extremely coveted on the commerce deadline, is basically incomes mid-level taxpayer cash to play the NBA’s most necessary job. The concept right here is that the Thunder can’t solely get reductions proper now, however doubtlessly enormous reductions when these offers finish as soon as the expected 2025 cap peak kicks in.

So who’s subsequent within the function? Darius Bazley is the final rookie of 2019 to wish an extension. Oklahoma Metropolis nonetheless has time to present him one, and if that’s the case, it’ll cement their technique of locking down gamers and determining the remainder later.

Key video games

Thunder at Knicks, November 13: There isn’t any indication that Gilgeous-Alexander is commercially accessible. Sam Presti himself has denied these rumors. However we all know how Knicks followers are. With Donovan Mitchell off the desk, they’re in search of one other younger star to pursue. Reviews have prompt New York’s curiosity in Gilgeous-Alexander, so count on a heat welcome when he stops by the Backyard. The Thunder would certainly wish to calm the group down with a win.

Thunder at Rockets, November 26: It is unclear how shut the Thunder got here to choosing Jabari Smith Jr. when he surprisingly handed No. 1 on draft evening, although an misguided report that he can be the choice at the least hinted that was on the desk. However with Holmgren out, Smith will certainly need to present Oklahoma Metropolis what he is been lacking, and when Holmgren lastly returns, he’ll possible be in comparison with Smith all through his profession after the 2 have been drafted back-to-back.

Lakers at Thunder, March 1: Is that this a very necessary recreation for the Thunder themselves? No. However Russell Westbrook is the best participant of their franchise’s historical past, and if final yr was any indication, he is most likely not off to a enjoyable season now that it seems just like the Lakers will maintain him. It is going to imply one thing to Oklahoma Metropolis followers to have an opportunity to cheer on their former hero if nobody else will.