Power Rankings: Where National sites seed OKC Thunder to start season

Jalen Williams #8 of the Oklahoma City Thunder poses during the 2022 NBA Rookie Portraits at UNLV on July 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jalen Williams #8 of the Oklahoma City Thunder poses during the 2022 NBA Rookie Portraits at UNLV on July 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

As the 2022-23 season tips off all 30 teams have reason to be excited. That extra-special glimmer for the OKC Thunder fanbase and team relates back to the prospect of winning the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.

The young Frenchman’s recent two-game appearance in Vegas only served to drive home how special and unique a talent he is. Like LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo before him VW clearly is a generational talent that will dramatically improve and alter the direction of the franchise that gets to select him.

Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 1 power rankings

As such this season as the weekly power rankings are revealed Thunder Nation should be as invested in the team ranking in the bottom three as they would be finding them tapped as a top-tier team in typical years.

With that in mind let’s take a gander at where the National sites rank the teams and where the OKC Thunder lands in that mix prior to the season start.

OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:

The first notable, statsmaster John Schuhmann offers with the regard to the OKC Thunder is a segment at the top of his weekly article citing the best and worst plus/minus performers of the week prior.

Entering week one the plus-performer pulled from preseason data is none other than Jalen Williams of the Thunder. An impressive marker for a rookie!

"Plus-Minus Players of the PreseasonRight Way: Jalen Williams (OKC) was a plus-84 in five preseason games.Wrong Way: James Bouknight (CHA) was a minus-76 in five preseason games."

It’s not that surprising the stats master ranks OKC 27th and not dead last. Historically Schuh’s been impressed by how the Thunder fight regardless of who suits up and consistently recognizes their defensive chops.

A portion of Schuhmann’s OKC Thunder excerpt is below and you can view the rest plus his full rankings here.

"Preseason notes: Even if you throw out their wins over Adelaide and Maccabi Ra’anana (over which they scored 141.8 points per 100 possessions), the Thunder were 3-1 with the league’s third-ranked defense in the preseason. Chet Holmgren is out for the year, but fellow Lottery pick Jalen Williams played well, often acting as the back-up point guard and averaging 19.7 points and 7.1 assists per 36 minutes.He showed a knack for getting to the basket and he shot 23-for-31 (74%) in the paint. Rookie guards don’t usually shoot well inside, so if he can keep that up, he might be something special. He’s already another Thunderman who’s fun to watch."

ESPN Panel:

Every year ESPN comprises a panel of writers who offer up the excerpts on the teams and vote on where the teams rank weekly. This season it will be Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, and Kevin Pelton.

Their most recent power ranking came out at the end of August (although it was edited and updated).  Next week they’ll get into the typical weekly ranking thoughts with more current information.

This post ranked the OKC Thunder 29th with Kevin Pelton offering the takeaway (notably not mentioning Chet Holmgren’s injury):

"Post-Finals ranking: 282023 title odds: +50000As usual, the Thunder were busy on draft night, making three of the first 12 picks. No. 2 selection Chet Holmgren showed his potential during summer league and immediately joins guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey in Oklahoma City’s core, while Ousmane Dieng and Jalen Williams give the Thunder two more promising wings. — Pelton"

For the full ESPN preseason listing, click here.

CBS Sports

Writer Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS keeps it real and unlike his counterparts rates the teams based on the previous week’s performances. That equates to more movement on his weekly ladder but also is helpful for fans who want to keep track of the pulse of what’s really happening on a weekly basis in the association.

To start the season he ranks the OKC Thunder 29th. Here’s his excerpt and click here to view his full ranking list.

"The Thunder appeared to be on the verge of actually trying to win games, but then rookie Chet Holmgren went down for the year with a foot injury. Womp, womp. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the best young players in the league, but he’s only played 91 games over the last two seasons due to injury and/or load management. With Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson as possible prizes, this doesn’t seem like the year that OKC will suddenly try to be competitive."

Bleacher Report

Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report offers up his rankings. Notably, throughout the season Bleacher Report tends to post their power rankings on the weekend following a different schedule than the other National sites. But for the inaugural power rankings he’s in line with his counterparts.

Bailey coincides with Schuhmann with the higher rank of 27th for the OKC Thunder.  A portion of his lengthy excerpt is below and his full article can be viewed here.

"With Chet Holmgren set to miss all of the 2022-23 season because of a foot injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder are likely angling toward another high lottery pick…Players such as Giddey, Poku and SGA (whenever he returns from an MCL sprain) will provide some entertaining stretches, but the Thunder are still in an asset-accumulation phase that lends itself to far-flung prognostication."

The Step Back:

Although this isn’t a weekly column I’ve added this article in for your perusal as they divide the 30 teams into interesting tiers. – have a peek and let us know if you agree with their placements.

"Oklahoma City Thunder: I think they’re even less likely to make a play-in push than the Magic but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a star, Josh Giddey is coming and some of their projects could start to hit this year (see: Tre Mann)."

The Athletic:

Finally, Zach Harper of the paid-for subscription ‘The Athletic’ serves up his power ranking list.  I elected to add Harper’s post because he takes a different stance on the rankings separating the teams into tiers…

The Wembanyama Watch group — READ: where the Thunder will rank and are joined by other teams tanking to win this unparalleled prospect. His other tiers include play-in wannabes vs. established, playoff teams, on the precipice of contention and the top group of contenders.

I’d encourage you to invest since this publication offers top-end articles on every sport and is well worth the investment. That said, I’m dropping in just the top segment of Harper’s OKC Thunder excerpt. If you purchase a subscription you can view it in its entirety.

"What do we like? The collection of young talent for the Oklahoma City Thunder is pretty impressive, even when Chet Holmgren has to miss an entire season. Sam Presti is doing a great job with collecting draft picks and utilizing those draft picks. Even without Holmgren, Jalen Williams gives the Thunder fans a really fun rookie to focus on. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey will be a fun duo this season, and the Thunder hopefully get to truly trying to compete for an entire season at some point soon."

His second section and prediction focus on how soon the team will start pulling the stars with ‘injuries’ and a prediction for Josh Giddey’s triple-double outcome this season.Overall, the national media rated the OKC Thunder with a high of 27th and a low of 29th.

Next week, the pundits will weigh in on the placements based on the first week of gameplay. For the Thunder that includes three games featuring the Denver Nuggets and two versus the revamped Minnesota Timberwolves.

Next. Best - Worst outcomes for OKC Thunder in 2022-23. dark