3 Increasingly bold predictions for the Thunder the rest of the season

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder / David Berding/GettyImages
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No. 1: The Thunder will win the NBA Triple Crown

The stretch run of the season will mean a lot for the standings, both for playoff teams at one end and lottery teams at the other. It will also go a long way toward deciding who will bring home all of the NBA's various awards. The prediction here is that the Thunder won't just win one, but they will win all of them.

At least, three of the most important awards, the "Triple Crown" of team success. The way that the Thunder have dominated, blowing through expectations and doing so with a young team, will secure them not one, not two, but three different year-end awards.

The most likely award for the Thunder to win is Coach of the Year, as Mark Daigneault is the clubhouse leader to bring home the prize. The Thunder are on track to go from a 40-42 record last season to 58 wins this season, and that kind of surprise dominance often leads to the head coach receiving recognition.

One of the more impressive aspects of Daigneault's coaching job this year has been the youth and inexperience of his roster. His primary rotation includes two sophomores and two rookies. One of those rookies received All-Star buzz this year, as Chet Holmgren combined shooting, scoring, playmaking and rim protection into a hyper-unique and particularly potent package.

He will have steep competition from fellow unicorn Victor Wembanyama, who is continually getting better with every week and looks like a foil to Holmgren for the next decade. The two players represent the new frontier for the NBA, where Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are merely the start of a generation of hyper-skilled big men. In the end, our prediction is that Holmgren's contributions to a winning situation give him the tiebreaker.

Finally, that team success is driven the most by the Thunder's best player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The 26-year-old point guard is nearly impossible to defend with his tight dribble, shifty motions and confidence pulling up from anywhere on the court. He is among the league leaders in scoring and is simultaneously leading the league in steals, and once you factor in our prediction that the Thunder will finish with the best record in the West, the award will be his.

Three major awards, three Thunder winners. This season isn't the pinnacle of what this core will accomplish, but it's certainly the exciting start of something special.

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