Did the 2022 NBA Draft accelerate the OKC Thunder rebuild?

Chet Holmgren #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder speaks with teammate Josh Giddey #3. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Chet Holmgren #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder speaks with teammate Josh Giddey #3. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
1 of 3

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the midst of a rebuild. Sam Presti is trying to put together a roster that can have another ten-year run of success. The last time Presti built a team from the ground up, it resulted in four trips to the Western Conference Finals and one of the best winning percentages in all ofthe  American professional sports, not just the NBA. Of course, it helps that the OKC Thunder General Manager snagged three straight eventually MVPs through the draft. The Thunder finished below 45 wins four times since moving in from Seattle and one of those seasons saw the Thunder win 44 games in a pandemic-shortened season.

The OKC Thunder got a strong baseline for this rebuild when they shipped Paul George to the L.A. Clippers for a historic pile of future draft picks, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has turned into a budding star in Oklahoma City, one of those Clippers picks has already turned into a lottery selection, and Danilo Gallinari was a vital part of a playoff run in his lone season in Bricktown.

In two seasons of rebuilding the Oklahoma City Thunder now have a fascinating young roster that includes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, sixth overall pick in 2021 Josh Giddey, the 18th overall pick in 2021 Tre Mann, and a couple of fun second-rounders from the 21 drafts in Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Aaron Wiggins.

The Thunder followed that four-prospect draft class with another one in 2022, which featured three lottery picks. The prize of course was Chet Holmgren with the 2nd overall pick, but a splash trade brought back Ousmane Dieng with the 11th pick via New York, and the Thunder still retained the 12th selection to add Jalen Williams out of Santa Clara. Factor in a flyer on Jaylin Williams in the second round and the young talent is quickly piling up.

Did the 2022 NBA Draft class accelerate the OKC Thunder rebuild behind the addition of Chet Holmgren?

As we await for the 2022-23 season to begin, just staring at the countdown clock until media day and training camp is underway, I have been thinking a lot about what this season could look like.

I am brought back to our introductory press conference with the Thunder rookies. The Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager was asked directly if the rebuild was accelerated by the 2022 NBA Draft and Sam Presti replied “No, Not at all.” he went on to add that they are “pace-setting” right now.

This is not the first time Presti has pushed back on the idea of accelerating the rebuild, three months ago the OKC Thunder General Manager said the organization is not “racing against time” in this rebuild. So what comes next for the Oklahoma City Thunder?