Is the NBA midseason tournament good for the OKC Thunder?

Jalen Williams #8 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)
Jalen Williams #8 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images) /

Last night, the NBA announced they had reached a deal with the NBA players association on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). This avoids the possibility of a work stoppage, ensuring labor peace for the next decade, and implements some interesting changes to the league. After teasing it for a few seasons, the NBA will now have a mid-season tournament. Will this be a good change for the OKC Thunder?

The NBA mid-season tournament has been met with backlash, jokes, and confusion since the idea was first floated into the basketball atmosphere. This is a foreign concept to Major American sports, and fans typically do not like change. However, the change could be a good thing for this young OKC Thunder core.

The OKC Thunder could benefit from the new Mid-Season tournament that the NBA is set to put in place next season.

The league will now have a mid-season tournament starting with the 2023-24 NBA season. Each team will still play just 82 games throughout the season, and the only change will be to the two teams that make the finals of the mid-season tournament. They will have played 83 games.

The only difference is that games in November will be both regular season standing and pool play games for this mid-season tournament. Once the bracket is set, eight teams will advance to the single-elimination stage in December.  The final four will be held at a neutral site, with the league eyeing their summer home of Vegas.

This is a format the NBA G-League has used for the last few seasons, including this year when Tre Mann had an electric stint with the OKC Blue. OKC found themselves in the G-League showcase finals against the Blue Coats the year prior. Every player and coach I have talked to likes this wrinkle in the G-League season.

Will it work in the NBA? Why would anyone care? Well, why do we care about anything? It is up to the fans to support this outside-the-box idea. Players will be incentivized by a half million dollars each to the players on the Championship roster.

So how does this impact the OKC Thunder more than the other 29 NBA teams?

The OKC Thunder are the second youngest roster in NBA history, and their talent is ready to explode onto the scene. While this season has been a surprise run, everyone is anticipating another leap from this group next year, with the second overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Chet Holmgren, added to the mix.

No matter how this season ends, season-ticket sales for the Thunder will be on the rise next year. With the recent developments of Bally Sports declaring bankruptcy, there is a good chance that come October; the OKC Thunder will play their games on a more accessible platform to local fans. This year’s record, Chet Holmgren’s return, the young core, this offseason of moves, and a more accessible product will create a massive buzz around Bricktown for basketball.

These young players have a winning attitude and mentality, from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, and especially Chet Holmgren. Just reflect on Holmgren’s comments about playing in the pro-am event back in August that put him on the shelf for his first season. Do not tell these 20-something-year-olds these games do not count. Now, they count double.

With the Paycom Center, hopefully, rocking next fall, the OKC Thunder can ride that momentum to a strong showing in the initial mid-season tournament, whereas older teams will likely blow it off.

No matter who wins this inaugural tournament, there will be many memes. Though, the team will be tasked with setting the tone for how quickly the discourse around the event can change.

No matter how you slice it, the games are not meaningless. On the contrary, they add more stakes to the game. Something fans have complained lacks in the sport. Each game throughout November will count as a standings game and a tournament pool game, double the meaning!

There is no other way to slice this other than it is good and shakes up the schedule’s rigidity without changing the sport’s complexity. Just have fun with it. If you place your bets now, I like the odds of this young Thunder core getting up for the chance to win this mid-season tournament.

Next. The third two-way slot is important for the OKC Thunder. dark