The OKC Thunder have built one of the best young cores in the entire NBA, and some exciting players headline it, from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander claiming his spot in the top ten of the NBA to the rising potential of Jalen Williams, the flashy passes of Josh Giddey, and the unicorn skillset of Chet Holmgren.
They do not lack subsistence with this flash; some fantastic rotational pieces accompany the core four. A defensive stalwart in Lu Dort, A whole bottom of glue in Kenrich Williams, a couple more lottery picks in Ousmane Dieng and Cason Wallace, a former starting big man in Jaylin Williams, and a sharpshooter in Davis Bertans, the likes of which this franchise has not seen.
While everyone gets caught up in the talent on this roster, and some are even making bold predictions on how well they will fare in the Western Conference, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander highlights an underrated aspect of this year’s squad.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tabs continuity as one of the best aspects of this OKC Thunder team.
When the Oklahoma City Thunder shipped Paul George to the Clippers for a historic pile of draft assets, the NBA world assumed that would trigger a rebuild. However, thanks to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander fitting in extraordinarily well with Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder, that Thunder team made a surprise playoff run, tracking as a top-four seed when the NBA world was paused.
That pressure-free run ended in a seven-game series against the Houston Rockets, getting bounced in the first round of the Disney World Bubble. Soon after that elimination game, the OKC Thunder stripped the roster down to the studs and began the rebuild process.
That led the OKC Thunder to this point, owning the best young core in the NBA that many project to be a force in the Western Conference for many years to come. However, along the way, the Thunder have seen plenty of roster turnover.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander highlights that this year’s squad has a leg up due to their newfound continuity, making the chemistry building easier.
“This is the first year in a little bit that we have had the majority of the group back so that kinda propels us into the next season. Us knowing each other, playing with each other, being around each other, and knowing what we want to accomplish can only help for the next season. It is part of team chemistry, and we are building it. Not to the point it needs to be to get to our ultimate goal, but we know that, and we try to strive for it every day.” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander explained.
He is right; from his first season in Bricktown, only Lu Dort remains on the roster to this day. In year two, the only survivors were the Canadian duo plus Aleksej Pokusevski and Kenrich Williams. From year three, only nine remain.
That all changed this season; from the 40-win team a year ago, the OKC Thunder have seen 14 returners, 15 if you count Chet Holmgren as a returner. Despite never playing, Holmgren learned a lot about the team and life in the NBA.
With such a bulk of returns, that can be the difference in the OKC Thunder having what it takes to take the next step in the incredibly tough Western Conference. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the best players in the league; with another year of experience under the belt of this young core, it leaves many Thunder fans thinking playoffs in Bricktown this season.