With one of the best young cores in the entire NBA, the OKC Thunder are the team many predicted to take a step forward this season. However, the question remains: what does a leap look like for a team that already improved by 16 games a season ago? However, with a roster comprised of early 20-year-olds, another significant jump in win total is not out of the picture.
That praise has flown in from all directions, from Legendary coaches to former award winners, NBA Executives, and NBA Insiders. However, the latest high praise for this OKC Thunder squad came from an unlikely source.
The OKC Thunder project to be a top-four seed in the tough Western Conference, according to Bill Simmons.
There is no arguing Bill Simmons has built himself into a media mogul, and among his many titles comes one of the most listened-to voices in the basketball world. However, a title not among ones he owns is OKC Thunder fan—quite the opposite.
From berating past cores to as recently as a month ago advocating for the team to leave Bricktown, Bill Simmons has been cast as a Thunder villain of sorts. So his latest podcast with The Ringer’s NBA Draft expert Kevin O’Connor left OKC Thunder fans with mixed emotions.
Bill Simmons spoils part of his season preview show to launch next week by proclaiming the OKC Thunder will finish fourth in the tough Western Conference, earning home-court advantage. That would not only be a leap, that would be the vaunted arrival that Sam Presti has been preaching about.
If this young OKC Thunder team earns home-court advantage in this Western Conference? Everything you think about this core and more will have to come true. It would affirm and solidify the belief that this young core is not only the best in the NBA but one of the best constructed.
Bill Simmons explains his reasoning, “I have [Oklahoma City] fourth in the West right now…If they do not make the playoffs, someone gets hurt…This is like a crazy young team, and that is why you would ding them. [But] 2010 OKC, [Kevin Durant was 21, [Russell Westbrook] was 21, [James] Harden was 20, [Serge] Ibaka was 20, and [Jeff] Green was 25. That team jumped from 23 wins in 09 to 50 in 2010…If you are applying that mindset [of young teams improving], that is what I have in my head.”
Simmons is on board with history repeating itself for the OKC Thunder, and Kevin O’Connor joined in the OKC Thunder praise, “It is just about the other guys catching up with [Shai Gilgeous-Alexander]. If Chet [Holmgren] proves he can stay healthy adds rim protection, spacing, and all the skill, Jalen Williams continues ascending like he did at the end of last season, lost in [Monday vs the Spurs], I felt was Cason Wallace, looking like Jrue Holiday already! Cason Wallace is the kind of rookie that can come in right away, and next to Lu Dort, that can be one of the best defensive backcourts in the entire NBA. OKC is definitely an over [of their 44.5 season win total] for me.”
Bill Simmons continued to praise the OKC Thunder’s depth, highlighting Kenrich Williams, Vasilije Micic, and Davis Bertans. Simmons was high on Bertans, adding sharpshooting to the OKC Thunder. “What else would you add?” Simmons exclaimed.
If the OKC Thunder can see history repeat itself with this young core, we are in for another historic run of basketball in Bricktown. For coverage of the most anticipated Thunder season since 2017, stay tuned to Thunderous Intentions.