OKC was unequivocally the busiest team this past off-season. The team was constantly in the news cycle due to all the changes to the roster. Sam Presti looked around at all the competitive teams in the Western Conference and decided he would punt on this season. Oklahoma City is, in my opinion, the only team in the West that doesn’t stand a chance to make the playoffs. That doesn’t mean they won’t be worth watching, though.
The Thunder had a great run last season when they unexpectedly made the playoffs. Everything seemed to go right for the team as OKC had great success despite many believing the team would be a bottom feeder. The lightning in a bottle the team found last season won’t be there this season due to all the major changes in personnel. Billy Donovan left for Chicago and was replaced by a guy with no prior experience in the NBA. Longtime fan favorite Steven Adams was shipped to New Orleans. Chris Paul was traded to the Suns. Danilo Gallinari signed with Atlanta. Dennis Schroeder was dealt to the Lakers. OKC has seen plenty of turnover ever since Durant left and now everything is different from way back then.
Let’s talk about some of the additions the team made. The team went the foreign route in the draft as they selected Aleksej Pokusevski, Theo Maledon, and Vit Krejci. Poku was looked at as one of the more intriguing prospects due to his on-ball skills while being a seven footer. He desperately needs to add weight if he wishes to be someone who can play heavy minutes, but his skillset is so fascinating. Maledon is an intelligent lead guard who has been learning from Tony Parker for the past couple of years. He has the kind of game that doesn’t lead to a lot of mistakes, much like Parker; a coaches dream. Krejci has a solid base as a player who doesn’t do anything poorly. The question is can he do anything at a high level. These three selections will help set the tone for what the future of the franchise really is.
Outside of the draft, the team was very active in acquiring talent through trades. The team flipped Danny Green for Al Horford in a move that made more sense once Adams was dealt. Horford is old, overpaid, and coming off a bad season. With all that being said, he is someone who can stabilize the locker room and should be able turn things around this year due to being in a better situation. After that, the team acquired Trevor Ariza who was technically on four different rosters in as many days. He hasn’t played that well ever since signing with Phoenix a few years ago, but he is a veteran 3-D wing. You can never have too many of those. The team also was able to add veteran talent to the backcourt with George Hill. George was one of the pieces the team received in the Steven Adams deal and looks like he can offer terrific support to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
There were a few less notable names added along the way as well. Justin Jackson found his way from Dallas to OKC and could be a great shooter for this team. Ty Jerome was a returning piece in the Chris Paul deal. Jerome was pretty bad as a rookie, but he is a smart player who can shoot the lights out. T.J. Leaf came over from Indiana and could be a decent addition as well. He is a good shooter for someone his size and could space the floor quite well, allowing Alexander and Horford all the space they need to operate.
This team is geared for the future. There isn’t any real hope for this team to make the playoffs the way they did last year. If the Thunder find a way to sneak into the postseason this time around, then Coach Daigneault would have to be the Coach of the Year. If you’re a Thunder fan, just sit back and have fun watching some of the young guys this year.