One Thing We’ve Learned About Each Thunder Player This Season

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) /
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It’s been an exciting year to follow the OKC Thunder. The team has been competitive on a nightly basis and continues to accumulate new talent while current players take steps forward in their development. As the year draws to a close, let’s take a look at one lesson we’ve learned about each Thunder player based on their performance this year.

Thunder Starters

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is an All-NBA caliber player

With one-third of the season completed, Shai seems to be the clubhouse leader for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award and a likely selection for the Western Conference All-Star team. You could also make a case for SGA to win the inaugural Jerry West Clutch Player of the Year award. Shai has increased his scoring output by nearly seven points per game. He’s improved his field goal, three-point, and free-throw shooting percentages by considerable margins. He’s also showing his ability to perform in the clutch with two-game winners (and he could have had three if not for a questionable foul call during the November 9th game against Milwaukee). SGA is a special talent, and the entire league is starting to take notice.

Josh Giddey can be a reliable secondary scorer

Josh Giddey has always been profiled as more of a playmaker than a scorer. He can effectively facilitate the offense and break down defenses with his highlight-reel passes. This season he’s also showing an ability to put points on the board. He’s increased his points per game from 12.5 in his rookie season to 14.7 through 26 games in his sophomore year. He’s improved his field goal percentage and his three-point percentage. Most players improve after their first year in the league, but for a player as young as Giddey (he turned 20 shortly before the start of the season), you have to wonder how much-untapped potential still exists.

Lu Dort is finding a role within the offense

Through 30 games, Lu Dort is attempting the least amount of shots per game since his rookie season. He’s attempting 12 field goals per game compared to 14 during the 2021-2022 season. He’s finding himself open in the corner more often as Thunder players pound the paint and look to kick out to an open shooter. His shooting percentages are identical to where they were one year ago when he was shooting at a higher volume, but hopefully, his efficiency will improve as he settles into a clearly defined role.

Jalen Williams should have gone higher than #12

Jalen Williams already looks like a steal considering where he was drafted. He’s got an incredible skillset that allows him to impact the game in multiple ways. He looks comfortable on offense even as a rookie, and he’s not afraid to hustle and do the dirty work on defense. He’s been a mainstay in the starting lineup through the month of December after contributing primarily off the bench during the first month of the season. His ceiling is high, and the OKC Thunder fanbase should be excited about his high-reaching potential.

Aleksej Pokusevski will get a second contract with the OKC Thunder

This didn’t seem like a certainty before the season started. Poku was drafted with the #17 pick in 2020 with the understanding that his development would take time. After two seasons in the league, it was fair to question whether or not he fits into the OKC Thunder’s long-term plans. Through two months of the 2022-2023 season, Poku has looked like a different player. He’s shown a greater ability to play within the flow of the offense while disrupting things for opposing players on the other end of the floor.