TI Roundtable: Answering all the Burning OKC Thunder questions

Oct 17, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; A general view of the Paycom Center before the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; A general view of the Paycom Center before the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports /
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OKC Thunder
Mar 23, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) smiles as he warms up prior to the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

OKC Thunder awards!

Who Will be The OKC Thunder’s Non-Shai Gilgeous-Alexander MVP? 

Rylan Stiles, Editor-In-Chief, @Rylan_Stiles on Twitter: Chet Holmgren. The rim protection and three-level scoring he provides is something the Thunder can not reproduce without him.

Alex Mcewen, Contributor, @EFlame_717 On Twitter: Jalen Williams

Ivan White, Contributor, @IvanBBall13 on Twitter: Although he’s being overlooked because of Chet Holmgren’s return and the expected jump from Jalen Williams, Josh Giddey is the Thunder’s MVP after SGA. His play in the FIBA World Cup showed clear improvements and gave him a taste of what it’s like to lead a team, which will pay dividends for OKC

Braxton Reynolds, Contributor, @BReynolds200 on Twitter: Jalen Williams morphed into OKC’s second scoring option last season due to his burly drives, efficient shot, and on-ball creation. He’s not just a scorer though, as Williams flashed secondary playmaking upside. Defensively, his strong frame allows him to mark bigger forwards.

Jackson Cosgrove, Contributor: The Thunder MVP outside of SGA is going to be Chet Holmgren. It may not show up in traditional counting stats, but Holmgren, with his remarkable blend of size and skill, will elevate every teammate around him.

Who is poised to breakout this season for the OKC Thunder? 

Rylan Stiles: Jaylin Williams. No, I spelled it right. J-Will is poised for a leap. In a reduced role off the bench, it also changes the equation for who Williams is guarding, and I believe he will show improved defense with a more overall offensive game.

Alex Mcewen: Chet Holmgren.

Ivan White: Vasilije Micic. His playmaking and veteran savvy will help him adjust quickly and be an easy slot-in to the starting five when injuries arise.

Braxton Reynolds: Ousmane Dieng had an up-and-down rookie season, but the 20-year-old wing popped during Summer League and the pre-season. Dieng leverages his length well on drives and contests, but he also possesses the foot speed to mirror ball handlers. Playmaking and efficiency are both works in progress; however, the flashes are blinding

Jackson Cosgrove: The breakout party already started after the All-Star Break last season, but I predict that Jalen Williams’ rise is only beginning. Williams had a white-hot Summer League performance back in July, scoring 21 points in 22 minutes. The effortlessness was what really stuck out. J-Dub has put even more muscle on, bolstering his ability to finish through contact. If his shot continues falling like it did in the back half of last season, the vision of three, even four all-stars on this roster starts to become tantalizingly realistic.

Who is the Best Defender for the OKC Thunder? 

Rylan Stiles: It is hard to dethrone Lu Dort, but Chet Holmgren by years end has a great chance to be considered the team’s top defender. Holmgren’s ability to swat shots at the rim, use his length to recover, and switch on the perimeter is insanely valuable.

Alex Mcewen: Lu Dort, his game-sealing stop on Brandon Ingram in Oklahoma City’s first play-in game has replayed in my head all off-season. Therefore, until someone else proves they can play better defense this is Dort’s title on the team.

Ivan White: Holmgren’s rim protection will give him big numbers and some great highlights, but Lu Dort is still the best defender in OKC. Dort will again take on the best wing or guard in every game this season and be effective in doing so.

Braxton Reynolds: Based on his Gonzaga and Summer League film, Chet Holmgren will immediately be OKC’s best defender and perhaps even an All-Defensive candidate. His anticipation as a help defender is special, and few players time their blocks better than Holmgren. Given his mobility, length, and instincts, Holmgren should decimate opposing pick-and-rolls too by denying the roll man while deterring the pull-up jumper.

Jackson Cosgrove: I think there’s a difference between “best defender” and “most impactful defender”. The player who will have the greatest impact is going to be Chet Holmgren, though that is a function of the role he’s going to play. As a defensive anchor and rim protector, Holmgren will have the most opportunity to affect the opposition.  The best defender, in my estimation, is going to remain Luguentz Dort.

Who is the best bench player for the OKC Thunder? 

Rylan Stiles: Isaiah Joe.

Alex Mcewen: Jaylin Williams.

Ivan White: Vasilije Micic.

Braxton Reynolds: Kenrich Williams.

Jackson Cosgrove: Vasilije Micic.