It has been 61 games into the season for the Oklahoma City Thunder and I’d say I speak for majority of people when I say that not many saw this coming. Oklahoma City sits at the 6th seed with a 37-23 record and is 1 game shy of the 5th seed. It’s safe to say that this team has an entirely different dynamic than the teams of the past.
Coming into the season no one had high expectations for the Thunder seeing how they just traded their two stars this past offseason. The Thunder had an official projected win total of 31.5. With 21 games left in the season, they’re already 6 games over their projected total and seem to be at a safe distance above .500.
Contributions from the 1st year members of the Thunder have been key in their current go at it this year. One piece I personally did not expect to have such an impact on the team immediately was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA is one four players averaging 17+ points on OKC’s roster. I admit I did not watch him in his rookie year with the Clippers. This kid is a future superstar in this league. Through 60 games SGA is averaging 19.3 PPG 6 RPG & 3.3 APG. He has contributed very important minutes in crunch time already and is very composed for his age. The future is very bright for this young man and this organization.
The most key factor into why this season is successful is because of the leadership of Chris Paul. CP3 was traded for Russell Westbrook this past offseason in an attempt for Oklahoma City to clean house and begin a rebuild. No one knew what to expect when Paul landed in Oklahoma besides an eventful trade for younger pieces. No one knew he’d become one of the clutchest closers of the 2019-2020 season. No one knew Oklahoma City’s fan base would develop a soft spot for him after years of what can only be described as a strong distaste. In his stint with the team, he has been a role model for the young players as well as the old. With 3 guards and a forward averaging 17+ points it’s safe to say that spacing and ball movement are no longer an issue. Opposed to previous years, Oklahoma City has been pretty average at the 3pt line which is a step up from years before. In the month of January, OKC averaged a 37 percentage from the 3pt line. Last month, it dipped slightly to 35.5. The current league average percentage is 36. That is definitely a positive.
Oklahoma City might have the next Coach of the Year in their hands. Billy Donavan was most definitely not a fan favorite after last years’ first-round exit. Half of them were calling for him to be fired before heading into the season.
Even if Chris Paul eventually gets traded, it’s not that big of a stretch to say that the City of Oklahoma is in good hands. From the offensive talents of Shai to the defensive wall that is Steven Adams, this roster is sturdier than what meets the eye. With 15 picks through the next 7 drafts and Sam Presti’s ability to draft talent, this honestly might be the quickest rebuild in NBA history.