With an offseason full of turnover and change, questions were sure to follow. The Thunder lost both of their All-stars and received back an unheard of amount of draft picks in exchange. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is questioning how bright OKC’s future is, as they appear to be set for the next decade. But after evaluation of the offseason and the dust settling, the season is only eight days away with some Thunder fans whispering… “is this team too good to be bad?”
A new look roster will take fans time to adjust to, no question. But could change be all that bad? The Thunder will seemingly run a variety of offensive sets and move the ball like fans have never seen. While that won’t necessarily translate to the amount of success Thunder fans are used to, it fits the playing style of young star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and will help groom Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo. An effective offensive playbook is more sustainable and will help the Thunder’s transition into this new look team.
After watching the first couple preseason games, the Thunder have to be excited in what they have. Cornerstones in SGA, Terrance Ferguson, Hamidou Diallo, and Darius Bazley all twenty one years or younger. It’s a new era of Thunder basketball, and while the old era will no question be missed, there’s absolutely no reason to not be excited about the one about to start. Veterans leading the way, extraordinary talent, and potential oozing everywhere.
Thunder fans should expect ball movement, a nasty pick and roll with Chris Paul and Steven Adams, and some of the most athletic young players in the NBA. The last ten years of Thunder basketball can be classified by what if’s, missed opportunities, and ultimately falling short of the end goal. Starting this season, the Thunder can capitalize on a new opportunity and do something no Thunder team has done. Not to say that this team is going to win a title, being realistic in this rebuild is key, but the foundation is being set as we speak.
This isn’t exactly a rebuild, though. A rebuild is what Knicks and Suns fans have had to suffer through and what Cavs and Bulls fans are going through at the moment. No, a rebuild isn’t exactly having a roster with a 9x all-star to go along with a top ten center in Steven Adams, and a player like Danilo Gallinari who averaged nearly twenty points per game while staying within three percent of the historic 50-40-90 club.
With the veteran talent there, the key in this excitement lies in the hands of budding star Shai Gilgeous Alexander and rookie Darius Bazley. SGA clearly has all-star potential and fans should be thrilled that he gets to sit back and learn from someone the caliber of Chris Paul. Not to take away anything from Russell Westbrook, but if there’s one thing he wasn’t, it was a traditional point guard. Chris Paul is one of the most fundamental players in the game, and not only is he ready to contribute to this years Thunder team, but he’s fully on board for helping prepare SGA for the future.
Darius Bazley on the other hand, is a player many Thunder fans were confused by or even disappointed by on draft night. A player many thought was a sure fire assignment to the OKC Blue. Then he comes in and plays incredibly well in the Summer League and has even started games in the preseason. Through those two preseason games, Bazley is averaging 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists for the Thunder. This kid is 19 years old. When is the last time the Thunder had young talent like this to be excited about?
Not to mention Dunk Contest Champion Hamidou Diallo and a player in Terrance Ferguson who showed incredible growth last year and was almost automatic from behind the three point line during a stretch of the season.
This Thunder team is too good to be bad. If people are expecting the Thunder to tank and find themselves in the lottery with the roster they’ve accumulated, I’m just not sure that’s possible. With a mix of veterans stability, young potential all-stars, and quality depth to the tenth player on the bench, this roster is more than competitive. Do they deserve expectations of every Thunder team for the past twelve years? Absolutely not. They are young and unproven, but they sure as hell shouldn’t be expected to roll over and win twenty games. Yes, this team and roster will be very different than years past, but this team will be intriguing, fun, and beyond exciting to watch.
I remember a day almost a decade ago when young stars Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden had a city behind them. Every game was sold out. It was sensory overload. The hopes of an NBA Title seemed so close and real you could taste it, and the excitement and buzz could be felt all throughout the arena. The Oklahoma City Thunder was the only thing on every Oklahoman’s mind. Those days were the days that Thunder fans become universally known as the best fans in the NBA.
This new exciting group of young playmakers deserve nothing less. Talent, potential, and a fresh start should motivate you as fans to welcome this new era of Thunder basketball and take on a new excitement as we embark on the future. Yes, Thunder basketball will be different, but who’s ready to have some fun?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!