Despite the standings, OKC Thunder holds the same mindset vs Jazz

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) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder have wrapped up their NBA All-Star Weekend, which saw Rookie forward Jalen Williams and Sophomore guard Josh Giddey team up in the rising stars contest, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played in his first NBA All-Star game on Sunday. Still, now the OKC Thunder refocus on the NBA regular season with the same mindset as before.

If the NBA season ended today, the OKC Thunder would be playing a postseason game. If I told you that the day after it was announced, the second overall pick, Chet Holmgren, was listed as out for the season, not many, if any, would have believed me.

The Oklahoma City Thunder hold a playoff spot heading into their first game after the All-Star Break, but the OKC Thunder will hold onto their same mindset.

The OKC Thunder have already surpassed their win total from a year ago, and they were the first team to do so this season, as they sit at 28-29 this season, just a game below .500 and a game and a half out of the sixth best record in the west.

The end of this season will be nothing short of a TNT Drama. A razor-thin edge separates the Oklahoma City Thunder from an outright playoff spot, while they also only sit three and a half games up on the sixth worse record in the NBA.

Admittedly, I do not have a crystal ball, nor do I know how this season will play out, but when you compare the data between all the teams in play-in contention and do not factor in the name of the teams, just pure production, no one has a better case to cling to that tenth seed than OKC.

Everything is in front of the OKC Thunder, with four games upcoming against the Utah Jazz, including on Thursday right out of the gate following the NBA All-Star Break, and only five of their final games coming against the Eastern Conference.

If the Oklahoma City Thunder want a playoff spot, they will have to earn it by running through the new-look Western Conference while clinging to the tenth spot or better throughout the final 25 games of the season.

At NBA All-Star weekend, I asked OKC Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander if their mindset changes at all or feels different, heading into Thursday’s game against the Utah Jazz for a matchup that will decide who will end the night in the final play-in spot.

“The race for the Play-in game, almost all the playoff spots are so close, we have the same mentality, we need every game.” So Shai Gilgeous-Alexander told me following Sunday’s All-Star game in Utah.

I asked Rookie Jalen Williams the same question,  “I think I just take every game as a must-win. I do not like building up games and having to overdo it. Obviously, they are a good team, they have been playing really well this year…the altitude is going to be a big challenge, looking forward to it.” he told me Friday night following the rising stars contest.

Mark Daigneault will continue to preach a 0-0 mindset, and the true importance of this season remains development and learning experiences. The new 20 games of this season will provide a different experience, games of consequence in the standings that will define playoff seedings.

How will the youngest team in the NBA, and the second youngest team of all time, react to this new position? The organization will find out over the next few weeks, and no matter how it ends, they will learn the lessons from the slate with the same mindset they had coming into the year.

Next. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has grown a lot as a person, and player, this season. dark