David Aldridge ranks OKC Thunder winner of 2018 NBA offseason

Paul George, Jerami Grant, OKC Thunder (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Paul George, Jerami Grant, OKC Thunder (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With the majority of summer moves complete NBA writer David Aldridge declares the OKC Thunder winners of the offseason.

This summer was anticipated to take a different path from the typical NBA offseason. This because the league’s best player LeBron James was once again entering free agency with the expectation he would change squads. Most analysts earmarked the Lakers as the leading candidate and presumed LA native Paul George would exit the OKC Thunder to join forces with James.

The weird 2018 Free Agency dynamics:

In fairness, it wasn’t an unreasonable assumption since George noted his desire to play for the Lakers prior to his trade to OKC. Moreover, many expected a repeat of the last free agency summer James was available when everything ground to a halt until LeBron made his decision. Shockingly, the exact opposite occurred. Players made swift decisions with many of the key free agents signing before James. George re-signed with OKC letting the world know twenty minutes prior to the technical start of the moratorium.  Others followed suit with many making decisions on the first night.

In the worst kept secret James signed with the Lakers, but the subsequent moves the LA made were head scratching. Conversely, OKC Thunder GM checked off virtually every objective the Thunder had.

Another key contributor to early signings was the lack of teams with disposable income. The resulting effect was a slew of free agents accepted one year discounted deals (or two years with opt outs). The primary reason for this phenomenon is multiple teams plan to create cap space this year so they can vie for the services of the copious A list stars who’ll enter the market in 2019.

Flash forward to present and with the Rockets re-signing Clint Capela every top listed free agent has a home. With that pundits began analyzing the actions of each team with a view to ranking the success or failure of each squad.

Aldridge bullish on OKC Thunder moves:

One of the first reports out is respected NBA analyst David Aldridge. In a bit of a surprise Aldridge ranks the Thunder atop the Association’s offseason. I say a bit because this shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise to the masses.

Aldridge notes the elephant in the room in the retention of Paul George which no pundit felt would happen. He further cites factors such as keeping Jerami Grant, shedding Carmelo Anthony and in doing so adding Schroder. All moves which vaulted the OKC Thunder to the top of his list.

"And even though OKC went out in the first round of the playoffs to Utah, its year-long courtship of George and his family paid off when PG-13 spurned L.A. once and for all to stay in the 405. Anthony ultimately wasn’t a good fit, but he brought back Schroder, who will give Billy Donovan a dynamic scorer off the bench that can give Westbrook a blow and keep OKC’s offense from immolating when Westbrook is on the bench, a common malady the last two years. The Thunder has been relevant in an incredibly small market now for almost a decade. With George and Westbrook and Steven Adams and, now, Schroder, all signed up through 2021, that remarkable run will continue for some time."

Aldridge’s top 10:

More from Thunderous Intentions

Rounding out his top ten Aldridge places the Lakers, Nuggets, Warriors, Grizzlies Suns, Mavericks, Pacers, Knicks and Spurs.

In terms of his choices there are some odd selections. I’ll dive into what my personal rankings are in a future post, but let’s just say there won’t be an argument from this end of the world over Aldridge ranking the OKC Thunder so high.

In terms of his other placements it’s odd Aldridge would penalize the Raptors for landing Kawhi Leonard in a move similar to what the Thunder undertook last summer with George. Moreover, Toronto accomplished this feat without having to relinquish young talents OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam. If talent, continuity and depth is a factor the Raptors should’ve ranked higher. Ditto for the Pacers for even at eighth on this list feel short changed.

As for placing the Lakers second I’m baffled. Sure they land LeBron James. But, allowing Juluis Randle  to walk for $9 million then signing Rajon Rondo at the same price is the most curious decision. The move to add a heavy ball use guard to a team who presumably would want to get Lonzo Ball minutes while simultaneously keeping the ball in the King’s hands is curious.

Factor in the additions of JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley none of whom are perimeter snipers.  The argument this sets up the Lakers well for the 2019 summer is reasonable, but why reward them this season if these moves were all made for a year from now?

Complete NBA Free Agency primer for Thunder and all 30 teams. dark. Next

The full Aldridge list can be reviewed on nba.com.