The Oklahoma City Thunder’s front office goal has always to continue to build around their core players, and to never get too comfortable. One of the main things Presti has always seemed to do is keep the team young and with players that are still developing their game or on the cusp of their best years.
According to Yahoo’s Bobby Marks’ tweet, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the youngest team in the playoffs. The average age with Thunder players that play more than 14 minutes, is 24.6 years old. Oklahoma City has definitely exceeded expectations with Durant leaving in free agency, and not necessarily having a roster built to Westbrook’s type of game. Still though, behind monstrous, MVP-type play from Westbrook, and some brilliant moves from Sam Presti, the Thunder find themselves in the six seed of the Western Conference wanting to make some noise in the playoffs, while building a youthful roster.
What is so exciting about the team being so young, is them being successful at this stage. Usually having a young, inexperienced team can lead to growing pains. For example, the Minnesota Timberwolves. A young team with a couple up and coming stars, but still aren’t quite there to put it all together, to translate it to wins for their team. But for Oklahoma City, that’s not quite the case.
They have a superstar in Westbrook, who is 28 and just entering his prime. Then they have a young core of players to build around. Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo come to mind first. 23 and 24 years old respectively, they are guys who could be apart of a very good core along with Russell if they continue to improve their game. Both have shown great improvements over the season and the playoff experience will do them well.
The next group of young guys are guys who have contributed to Oklahoma City this season, and will only get better in years to come. Those are guys like Alex Abrines, Domantas Sabonis, and Jerami Grant. Abrines and Sabonis are just rookies and have shown plenty of flashes to excite the organization. Abrines is already a very good three-point shooter and Sabonis has the basketball intelligence light years ahead of a rookie. Grant, who joined the Thunder in a trade earlier in the season, has insane athleticism and only in his second year. He has shot the ball well from deep this year and this prototypical player that Presti loves to have.
The Thunder also have even younger guys who they have in their organization, getting ready for the NBA by playing in the D-league. They could end up becoming big role players for Oklahoma City in the near future. These are guys like Josh Huestis and Dakari Johnson. Semaj Christon kind of fits in this category, even though he has now become the backup behind Westbrook, and played well to end the season.
So, with all this youth, how are the Oklahoma City Thunder already this successful? Well, great preparations for the young guys by the coaching staff, and more importantly the excellent leadership from Westbrook. Russell’s leadership role has grown a lot this year, and he has stepped up to task leading the team on and off the court. Other guys who are veterans like Taj Gibson and Nick Collison, also help to keep the younger guys settled down on the court and in the locker room.
Even after these playoffs come and go, the Thunder will have an exciting, young roster to continue to improve and build around. While other teams like the the Los Angeles Clippers, who don’t really have the young guys to improve around, might have to blow it up if they have another early playoff series loss.
Having a youthful roster can be good. Being a successful team that can make the playoffs is great. Having the youth and success at the same time is hard to come by, but something Presti and the Thunder pride themselves on.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!