The Oklahoma City Thunder surprised the NBA by getting into the play-in tournament last season, but that led them to an offseason with some impactful decisions to make.
However, considering how the Thunder have operated and found success over the last couple of seasons, the best move may be to keep things simple.
Why the OKC Thunder should not make a big move this offseason
The Thunder spent some seasons tanking after the 2020 playoffs and now have a squad to show for it. Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams have been the most impactful additions from those tanks, with Chet Holmgren ready to debut next season.
Holmgren may be the biggest reason to refrain from making any significant moves. However, the second-overall pick out of Gonzaga could be a franchise-changing player. At 7-foot-1, Holmgren’s ability to handle the ball and shoot from anywhere while being a rim protector on the other end gives him the potential to be one of the best in the league.
With a potential difference-maker like Holmgren coming into the lineup next season, it’s essential to see how he fits in before making any big moves. While some guys like OG Anunoby would likely fit seamlessly in any situation, taking touches away from the Thunder’s young pieces could stunt development.
As the Thunder have said many times since the beginning of the rebuild, development is the most important thing. Disrupting the process of developing guys could cause players like Ousmane Dieng to be tagged as busts without getting a fair opportunity to reach their potential. Dieng spent much of his rookie season injured or playing with the OKC Blue, so adding a high-profile player and heightening expectations could push him out of next season’s rotation entirely.
Another issue with adding a big name is the emergence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as a superstar. SGA was named to First-Team All-NBA recently and finished fifth in MVP voting. He averaged 31.4 points and led the Thunder to its first postseason appearance in three years.
With Gilgeous-Alexander at the top, the Thunder may already have a perfect supporting cast. Giddey, Williams, and Holmgren are the three players to look out for next season as the Thunder look to take another step toward championship contention.
GM Sam Presti has made it a priority to get versatile players who can play multiple positions. That makes nailing the primary positions of Williams and Holmgren particularly important. If the Thunder can find the best spots on the floor for the top four players to complement each other, it makes a potential move in the 2024 offseason much more straightforward.
After the success of the 2023 season, the draft is unlikely to be the spectacle for the team that it has been in recent years. However, it will probably be the biggest day of the Thunder’s offseason. OKC is projected to land the 12th pick, barring some incredible luck in the draft lottery. Presti picked J-Dub at that exact pick last year, and he blossomed into the Rookie of the Year runner-up.
If the Thunder can hit on that pick or even move up to get their guy, it could be better than trading for a star. Adding this pick and Holmgren next season should help OKC assemble a competitive rotation good enough to make it into the playoffs next season. A playoff appearance would magnify the Thunder’s weaknesses and give them a blueprint to jump into contention.
Ultimately, staying healthy and making that playoff appearance are the biggest keys to next season’s success. Making a move will likely be necessary for the Thunder soon, but making the wrong move this offseason could close the Thunder’s championship window before it begins.