The OKC Thunder can learn a lot from the Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the midst of their rebuild, even after winning 40 games and earning a spot in the NBA play-in tournament. The OKC Thunder must “finish their breakfast,” as Sam Presti says. While this exciting season, with another top-12 pick, Chet Holmgren’s return, and top-five in the league cap space on deck, fans have been clamoring for the OKC Thunder to shift to all-in mode.

While watching this year’s NBA playoffs, the Boston Celtics have provided many lessons for the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer. The main one is Patience.

The OKC Thunder can learn a lot from the Boston Celtics this summer after watching this year’s playoffs.

Two games. That is the amount of postseason basketball Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have played together. This OKC Thunder core has yet to play even a preseason game with Chet Holmgren. They have not even been through the complexities of a playoff series together, the ebbs and flows of preparing for the same opponent seven straight times. So while this season was a wild success, and a ton of valuable experience was gained, you have to finish your breakfast.

The Boston Celtics got over the hump to make the NBA Finals last year before falling to the Golden State Warriors. Now, after being down 0-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals, they are hours away from a possible return to the Finals.

Jayson Tatum is 25 years old, selected third in the 2017 NBA Draft; Jaylen Brown is 26 years old, selected third in the 2016 draft; Marcus Smart is 29 years old, selected sixth in the 2014 draft, all by the Boston Celtics.

Tatum has played in 94 playoff games; Brown has played in 104 playoff games; Marcus Smart has played in 107 playoff games, all for the Boston Celtics. When you add Al Horford to that core, you get 89 playoff games in his Celtics tenure. That core has been together, battle-tested, second-round, Eastern Conference Finals, NBA Finals, and they are still looking for that elusive first championship in the big market of Boston as a core six years later.

Six years is a short time. These Celtics are still young (besides Al Horford, but at this point, he keeps fighting off father time, so who knows?); even if they lose to the Heat tonight, they still have time to win together. But in six years, at most, they will have made it to one NBA Finals. There is context and reasons for that. But the bottom line is, despite the 40-win success, these Thunder players have to finish their breakfast.

It will take playoff battles before they burst through—many battles. The Thunder will be successful in 2023-24, I project that they will make the playoffs, but the lofty expectations of being all-in seem a bit off for a team that has yet to play a single playoff series.

The OKC Thunder are still rebuilding, curating their roster for their next extended run. This is just the beginning, not the middle or end. The Thunder do not need to make rash signs or go for fit instead of the best player available in the draft. They just need to keep on swimming. Finish their breakfast. Whatever analogy you want to use, but despite this season’s sugar high, breathe. This will be a long, fun ride with many twists and turns. Do not rush the process.

Chris Paul is advocating for OKC to select GG Jackson. dark. Next