Oklahoma City Thunder 2022-23 NBA preview: Major injuries make OKC eye the lottery again

Just when you think that thunder Ready to come out of their two-year tank as one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA, the injury gods decreed that Oklahoma City would spend an extra year in the lottery grounds. Second place pick Chet Holmgren ignited the summer league…and then picked up an injury at the end of the season in a pro game. Shay Giljus Alexander showed up ready for his All-Star debut…and then suffered a sprain in his MCL. No wonder the Thunder carried the popular hero Alexei Bukosevsky from EuroBasket. They cannot risk any further losses. They’ll see a lot of those on the scoreboard over the next seven months.

This wouldn’t bother the Thunder too much, of course. We’re talking about a team currently stocking 15 first-round picks that cover the next seven drafts. They won’t say no to a few pingpong balls, especially when they’re out on Victor Wimpanyama or Scott Henderson. But that mitigates some of the fun this season could have provided.

So what will Oklahoma City’s last gap year look like? With Holmgren and Gilgeous-Alexander out, what to watch on one of the NBA’s youngest rosters? Here are three main themes as Oklahoma City embarks on what we hope will be its last tank for a long, long time.

Major changes

  • Coined by Chet Holmgren No. 2, Osman Deng No. 11, Galen Williams No. 12 and Jalen Williams No. 34.
  • He signed Low Dort’s five-year deal worth $87.5 million.
  • Kenrich Williams signed for four years worth $27.2 million.

existing

player

Site

age

Darius Bazley

straight ahead

22

Osman Deng

straight ahead

19

Lugwentz Dort

straight ahead

23

please Derek

center

31

Melvin Fraser Jr.

Protect

26

Josh Gedi

Protect

19

gilgus alexander tea

Protect

24

Jaylen Howard

straight ahead

23

Chet Holmgren

straight ahead

20

T Jerome

Protect

25

Georgios Kalitzakis

straight ahead

23

fett craigsey

Protect

22

Theo Malidon

Protect

21

Tree Man

Protect

21

Mike Muscala

center

31

Eugene Omoroi

straight ahead

25

Alexey Bokosevsky

center

20

Jeremiah Robinson Earl

straight ahead

21

Lindy Waters III

straight ahead

25

Aaron Wiggins

Protect

23

Galen Williams

straight ahead

21

Jaylene Williams

straight ahead

20

Kenrich Williams

straight ahead

27

The top of the switch: tea is not

Right now, the Thunder only said that Gilgeus Alexander was going out for the start of the training camp. Beyond that, we just have to wait and see. He’s dealing with an MCL sprain, a tough injury that holds some players longer than others. a Helpful post on Reddit From 2018 they tracked the length of absence of several players with an MCL sprain and found that they differ strongly. In that group, the comeback came as quickly as 34 days and another took 75. The schedule is usually about six or seven weeks. That’s when Kevin Durant missed the same injury a season ago.

More importantly, this marks the third consecutive season that began or ended with an injury to Gilgeos Alexander, who has played just 91 games over the past two seasons. Sure, some of those missed games may have come out of… Lower body injuries are never a good sign.

Thunder will definitely be wary again this season. With Holmgren already out, playing isn’t a reasonable goal. But once Gilgus Alexander returns, it will be encouraging to see him play all season and put some of those injuries behind.

Next: Giddey with excitement

The (minor) silver lining of Alexander’s Gilgeus absence? More ball-handling assignments for the sixth seed pick in 2021, Josh Gedi. Here’s a fun fact for you: The Jedi, with only 54 games under his belt, is already ranked third in Thunder history with four triple-doubles goals. He will cross the seven by Kevin Durant at some point this season, and while he still has a long way to go to reach the number 138 for Russell Westbrook, expect to see him slowly emerge as the top player of 2017 over the next several years.

A well-rounded Jedi should come with legendary archery coach Chip England joining the cast. He will probably improve as a rebel as well as his body continues to fill up. But the main attraction here is the traffic. I mean… what is the defense supposed to do about it?

There is only one other 6-8 striker in the NBA who consistently sews no-look passes through four defenders and is wearing the NBA’s No. 23. Lakers. The Jedi may not have LeBron’s sporting gifts, but it won’t be long before he wins the title of two-decade-old James as the best passer in the NBA.

Another thing: everyone gets an extension!

There was a bit of a surprise when Thunder granted powerful defender Lou Dort a five-year, $87.5 million extension. They didn’t need to pay him right away. With a team option on the books for this season, they could have kept it at a below-bottom price and deal with it a year from now. Later in the season, they signed Kenrich Williams, who brought him close to nothing by NBA standards, for a four-year extension. Gilgeous-Alexander has just begun a five-year extension. There is a trend emerging here.

The Thunder has so many young players that they’ll eventually need to push that it seems they’ve taken a proactive and conservative approach at the same time in order to retain their talent: expand everyone as soon as possible than betting that it will cost them less. in the long run from allowing these players to enter the open market. Case in point: Williams, the two-way winger who was so coveted on the trade deadline, is essentially making taxpayer money from the mid-level to play the most important position in the NBA. The idea here is that the Thunder can not only get discounts right now, but will likely get very steep discounts at the end of these deals once the projected 2025 ceiling starts to rise.

So who’s next on the agenda? Darius Bazley is the last 2019 rookie in need of an extension. Oklahoma City still has time to give him one, and if that happens, it will enhance their strategy of locking up players and fixing the rest for later.

Main Games

Thunder in nicksNovember 13: There is no indication that Gilgeous-Alexander is available through trade. Sam Prieste himself Drop those rumors. But we know what Knicks fans are like. With Donovan Mitchell out on the table, they search for another young star to shine after. Reports suggested New York’s interest in Gilgeous-Alexander, so expect a warm reception when he stands up to the park. Thunder will surely like to calm the crowd with victory.

Thunder in missilesNovember 26: It is not clear how close Thunder came to selecting Jabari Smith Jr. When he suddenly skipped No. 1 on the night of the raffle, though wrong report It would be the check at least hinted that it was on the table. But with Holmgren out, Smith will certainly want to show Oklahoma City what’s lacking, and when Holmgren does eventually return, he will likely be compared to Smith for his entire career after the two were drafted together.

Lakers at Thunder, March 1: Is this a particularly important game for the Thunder themselves? No, but Russell Westbrook is the greatest player in their history, and if last year is any indication, he’s probably not in a fun season now that the Lakers seem to be holding on. It would mean something to Oklahoma City fans to have the opportunity to cheer their former champion if no one else did.

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