NBA Every day: A Shiny Future is Constructing in Oklahoma Metropolis
34 draft picks from 2021-27.
A staggering treasure chest of belongings, one thing meaning nothing if the staff that owns these belongings can’t draft effectively.
Fortunately for followers of the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, the franchise has already proven that it might probably construct a aggressive and enjoyable roster regardless of the circumstances.
There’s no sugarcoating it, the Thunder is actually terrible this season. The staff boasts a really atrocious 104.7 offensive score, good for 30th within the league whereas pushing out a less-than-stellar 112.Eight defensive score, good for 22nd within the league. The staff is lifeless final in SRS, a stat that elements level differential and power of schedule whereas proudly owning a league-worst -8.1 internet score.
However this staff is a lot enjoyable to observe. A lot in order that it’s simple to neglect its horrible rankings and document.
The Younger Stars
The staff already boasts one of many recreation’s greatest younger stars in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Gilgeous-Alexander is having fun with career-best numbers of 23.7 factors and 5.9 assists per recreation whereas capturing 50.Eight % from the ground and 41.Eight % from past the arc. “SGA” is out indefinitely, however the staff can relaxation assured within the growth it’s seeing from its different younger items.
Look no additional than the staff’s 2020 draft class composed of Aleksej Pokusevski and Theo Maledon, two gamers already making an impression. Coming into the season, neither participant seemed to be vital contributors coming from abroad play and needing time to develop. The truth is, “Poku” is the youngest participant within the NBA, whereas Maledon is the sixth-youngest.
Maledon has 30 begins beneath his belt already on the age of 19, averaging 9.Eight factors, 3.5 rebounds and three.Three assists per recreation. Maledon’s capturing splits don’t bounce off the web page however his instincts do. The purpose guard isn’t the kind of participant to surrender on a play and it’s simple to see the offensive instincts carry over from his time with ASVEL in France.
In the meantime, Pokusevski is on fireplace as of late. Since March 11, “Poku” is a full-time starter, averaging 31.four minutes, 13 factors, 6.Three rebounds and a couple of.Eight assists per recreation. The Serbian energy ahead solely turned 19 in December and it’s already clear to see his potential is almost limitless.
Fan-favorite “Poku” has capturing potential, connecting at a 35.9 % charge from deep on over six makes an attempt per recreation. He could make performs, rebound, collect blocks and rating in any respect three ranges. He isn’t a marksman, he’s removed from it at this stage of his profession, however there’s no denying the finesse he places on each shot. Choose-and-rolls that includes Pokusevski and Maledon is one thing Thunder followers must stay up for.
The Thunder’s younger expertise doesn’t finish there, the staff is already proving it might probably discover gems on a whim.
Two-Approach Contract Improvement
Moses Brown performed out final season as a member of the Portland Path Blazers on a two-way contract and was largely an afterthought. Brown spent most of his rookie season within the G-League earlier than getting a chance with the Thunder in coaching camp, a chance he used to choose up one other two-way contract alternative after which a multi-year deal after stellar play.
In a recreation towards the Boston Celtics on March 27, it was clear to see Brown had established himself as a staple of the Thunder’s younger corps. In that recreation, Brown picked up 21 factors and 23 rebounds, each of that are profession highs. Shortly after, the Thunder transformed Brown to a typical deal.
Since March 14, Brown has 12 begins beneath his belt in 14 video games, averaging 11.5 factors and 11.Three rebounds per recreation.
Oklahoma Metropolis has 10 gamers on its roster which have three or fewer years of expertise, not together with Pokusevski, Brown, Maledon or Gilgeous-Alexander.
Shortly after changing Brown, the staff moved to signal Jaylen Hoard, who was on a two-way contract reverse of Brown in Portland final yr. Like Brown, Hoard spent coaching camp in 2020 with the Thunder however was finally minimize, not like Brown. Nevertheless, if early indicators are any indication, Hoard already appears to be like like one other keeper.
In simply three video games, Hoard is averaging 11.7 factors per recreation whereas limiting his fouls and enjoying along with his head down.
The opposite two-way contract slot is held by Josh Corridor out of Moravian Prep, a younger participant that may be very uncooked however has limitless upside. Don’t maintain his numbers towards him, he has the athleticism to make followers remorse that. Watching Corridor is at all times a thrill as a result of there’s at all times a threat of an explosive play to return. It’s clear to see that the end-of-roster growth is simply as expert as the remainder of the roster.
Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley grew to become family names for NBA followers within the Orlando bubble final season and have continued their robust play into this season. Dort’s been a full-time starter this season whereas averaging 12.6 factors per recreation. His capturing is pitiful however he’s a tough employee and he’s made strides as each a playmaker and a scorer. Bazley can also be a full-time starter with poor capturing numbers however he’s near being a nightly double-double. Whereas these two haven’t jumped off the web page this yr, they’ve each already confirmed that they will contribute to successful basketball, as seen final season.
Isaiah Roby is one other attention-grabbing case, he’s an enormous participant that may play the three by way of the 5 on a dime. Roby was traded to the Thunder from the Dallas Mavericks for pennies on the greenback — and he’s making Oklahoma Metropolis grateful for his or her doing so. Roby’s averaging 8.9 factors on very environment friendly capturing.
As if the OKC frontcourt wasn’t loaded sufficient, the staff went out and bought Tony Bradley from the Philadelphia 76ers in a commerce that shipped George Hill away. The transfer seemed nice on the time and appears even higher now, as he’s making the case to be thought of a long-term piece.
Bradley continues to be simply 23-years-old and seemed like an appropriate alternative for Joel Embiid on the 76ers when the MVP candidate went down. The middle’s greatest recreation got here in a win over the Golden State Warriors during which he recorded 18 factors and 11 boards.
If that wasn’t sufficient the staff additionally has Svi Mykhailiuk, Ty Jerome and Kenrich Williams, who’ve all confirmed their value in a technique or one other. Mykhailiuk and Jerome have the potential to be a number of the greatest shooters within the league whereas “Kenny Hustle” is precisely that, the final word glue man.
Probably the most underrated traits a creating staff can have is the flexibility to barter with abroad gamers and leagues and choose up skilled stars. The Thunder is shortly exhibiting its followers that it’s greater than able to doing so.
Firstly, the staff drafted Vit Krejci within the second spherical of the 2020 draft. Krejci didn’t come over this season however has the potential to be a great position participant for the Thunder if he’s ever introduced over. He additionally bought expertise enjoying within the NBA G League earlier this yr.
Then, the staff lately signed Gabriel Deck, who isn’t tremendous younger however is a successful participant. Literal hours earlier than the transfer went down, Deck scored 19 factors to elevate Actual Madrid to the Euroleague playoffs.
The staff can also be reportedly bringing over Vasilije Micic subsequent season, a star in Euroleague averaging 16.four factors and 5 assists per recreation in these video games. Understand that it’s far more troublesome to notch assists abroad. Micic isn’t younger both, however he’ll carry loads of skilled expertise each on the courtroom and within the locker room to assist a younger Thunder staff.
Whereas Oklahoma Metropolis is continually touted for its future draft picks, its present roster isn’t one thing to look over both. Mix that with the truth that, regardless of his large deal, the staff may be capable to really get one thing of worth for Al Horford and has a roster spot to make use of as soon as Justin Robinson’s present 10-day deal runs up.
Within the NBA not many issues are sure, however the Thunder’s vivid future and strategic entrance workplace certainly are.