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So, Umm, A Lot Happened With The Oklahoma City Thunder This Offseason

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

Twenty-nine different opposing NBA teams will walk through the doors of Target Center to play the Wolves this season, and we want you to know as much as you can about all of them. What’s the order of the teams we’re previewing? It’s actually completely random! Now, a team that went from contender to project over the offseason.

Notable Players Acquired: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (trade), Chris Paul (trade), Danilo Gallinari (trade), Mike Muscala (free agency), Justin Patton (free agency), Darius Bazley (draft/trade).

Notable Players Lost: Russell Westbrook (trade), Paul George (trade), Jerami Grant (trade), Markieff Morris (free agency), Patrick Patterson (free agency). 

What Went Down In 2018-19?

The Thunder were an entirely different team in 2018-19 than they will be in 2019-20. Last season, the combination of Paul George and Russell Westbrook got the Thunder to the No. 4 seed in the West and a first-round matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers. We all know what happened there, though. They fell victim to one of the craziest shots in NBA history by Damian Lillard and all of a sudden their future was in doubt. 

OKC was a good team but not a great one in 2018. There were legitimate questions of how high the duo of George and Westbrook could take them, especially considering the overall lack of shooting on their roster. Even if Lillard hadn’t hit his shot, things were not perfect in Oklahoma City. George and Westbrook both dealt with nagging injuries throughout the season and there was a general sense that while the Thunder were talented, they couldn’t make a deep run unless things really broke their way. 

The Offseason Was . . . 

Chaotic. When the dust settled, the Thunder had moved both their stars and ended up with an enviable collection of young players and draft picks. They hold what seems to be all of the Clippers’ future draft picks and they acquired a talented player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who is just coming into his own as a potential star in this league. Picking up Chris Paul to help teach Gilgeous-Alexander some of the tricks of the trade will only help his development. While the Thunder lost Westbrook, they might already have their point guard of the future. Additionally, Danilo Gallinari is a very good player when he’s healthy. His timeline might not match with the rest of the roster but he’ll give Thunder fans some entertainment in the meantime. 

The Thunder did what good teams did and saw ahead to the future before the train went off the rails. They recognized that the core of George and Westbrook probably wasn’t potent enough to deliver a championship and they moved at the moment they had the most leverage to maximize their return. It’s sad for OKC to lose two legit stars, but they are extremely well set up for the future. 

The Big Question:

How good can Gilgeous-Alexander become? If he can blossom into his potential of one of the best two-way guards in the league, the Thunder already have one of the most important pieces of their rebuild in their building. If he doesn’t pan out the process becomes a lot harder. My expectation is that he will excel. The Thunder could be surprisingly good this year if that happens sooner rather than later. 

This Writer’s Prediction 

The Thunder will not win many games this year but that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for optimism. Thunder fans will be watching a lot of college basketball this year in preparation for what is going to be an interesting crop of young players they build up over the years. However, don’t be shocked if the Thunder win more games than expected. Galinari, Paul and Gilgeous-Alexander can play. 

Describe This Team In 15 Words Or Less

Aging vets and young prospects playing together on a team in transition.

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