Rebuilt Thunder has solid anchorage at Gilgius-Alexander

Oklahoma City (AP) — Thunder general manager Sam Presti said this season will be a test run through young talent to see where it fits into future plans.

It was a different approach for a franchise that had been one of the league’s best in the past decade. But with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Chris Paul long gone, the Thunder have admitted they are in full rebuilding mode.

There were tough moments this season, including a 152–79 loss to Memphis that set an NBA record for scoring margin. Injuries shattered the top players on the roster. The Thunder finished with a 24-58 record – the fourth worst in the league.

The poor record gives the Thunder a chance to pull in a high draft pick this year – a familiar refrain for the franchise. Oklahoma City has an astonishing stockpile of 19 possible first-round picks and 17 possible second-round picks through the 2028 draft.

At least the players they already have are flexible. Eight times this season, the Thunder rallied by at least 15 points to win. He overcame a 26-point deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers on October 27 – tied for the biggest comeback ever for the Thunder team.

“I think this is a group that has maintained a ton of optimism,” said coach Marc Degnault. “Obviously we don’t finish at the top of the standings, but I really didn’t feel the drop in our optimism or our commitment from this team, and that’s a credit to the people we have on the team. They There are people who are hanging out there.”

Through the challenges, Thunder seems to have found some answers.

Shai Gilgius-Alexander moved into his fourth year and looked like a franchise player. For the season, the guard averaged 24.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He averaged 30.4 points on 54% shooting in 13 games after the All-Star break, before being called off for the season with a pain in his right ankle. He scored at least 30 points in 10 of his last 13 matches.

Rookie Josh Giddy lived up to expectations and then some. The 19-year-old Australian averaged 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game and was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month four times this season. He became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double when he had 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 14 assists against the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. At one point, he recorded three straight triple-doubles just before going down. Seasons with a painful right hip.

Another rookie, Trey Mann averaged 10.4 points per game and had a season-high 30 in a win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Guard Lou Dort saw a significant jump in offensive output before being down for the season with a shoulder injury. His scoring average increased from 14.0 points per game to 17.2.

With all the injuries, the Thunder raced to the finish line. There were just six players in the Oklahoma City finale.

“I have great respect for all those people, and I hope they get the opportunity to play in the NBA,” Degnoault said.

Darius Buzzley

The ultra-athletic forward dropped out of the starting lineup at one point, but eventually regained his spot and had a solid season. He averaged 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game before breaking a bone in his right knee.

second half of poku

Second year old Aleksej Pokusevsky got off to a slow start before arriving late in the season. The Serbian 7-footer averaged 12.2 points and 7.3 rebounds in March. He got his first career triple-double on April 3, when he had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists against the Phoenix Suns.

hoarding number

Jaylen Hoard, who played for the Thunder’s G-League ally this season, stood out during a season-ending 10-day deal. The 6-8 forward from France averaged 17.2 points and 13.7 rebounds in six matches since signing. He had 24 points and 21 rebounds on April 1, and 27 points and 17 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 8.

local sharpshooter

Former Oklahoma State Guard Lindy Waters stepped into the rotation after a flurry of injuries and performed admirably. He played 25 games, mostly as a reserve, and shot 36% on about six 3-point attempts per game. At his best, he scored 25 points in a home loss to the Atlanta Hawks and Norman North High teammate Trey Young on March 30.


Second-round pick Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had his moments as well. Villanova’s center started 36 of his 49 matches. He averaged 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He missed 24 games with a broken leg.


Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter:


More AP NBA: More

Leave a Comment