2019-20 NBA Team Preview Series: Oklahoma City Thunder
Photo credit: Getty
The 2019-2020 NBA season starts October 22nd and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
2018-2019 Record: 49-33, 4th in the Northwest Division. Lost 1-4 to the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Season Recap: Paul George came out of the gate for the Thunder having an incredible season. While Russell Westbrook did struggle at times, he was able to impact the game in other ways. The two of them led the Thunder to almost a 50-win season. However, an injury derailed George’s season and although he was able to play, he could not produce the same type of numbers and efficiency he had enjoyed in the beginning of the season. The Thunder found themselves on the wrong end of one of the greatest series clinching shots in NBA history when Damian Lillard sank a 37-footer at the buzzer to send them home in the playoffs as they lost in five games to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Key Losses: Paul George, G/F; Russell Westbrook, G; Patrick Patterson, F; Jerami Grant, F; Markieff Morris, F; Raymond Felton, G;
Key Additions: Mike Muscala, F/C; Chris Paul, G; Danilo Gallinari, F; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G;
Preview: The Russell Westbrook era is officially over in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are starting a completely new chapter for their franchise after the trades of Westbrook and Paul George. The team finds themselves with two point guards, one old and one young. The Thunder have a solid roster heading into next season. The team as currently constructed is not going to be the worst team in the NBA, but the playoffs may be a stretch for this group. Danilo Gallinari is coming off of his finest season as a pro and he can provide the Thunder with some much needed offense in the absence of their two superstars. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander showed flashes of being a great player last season and the Thunder have to hope that he can become their next franchise point guard. Adding those two to the mix of Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel, and Terrance Ferguson is the start of something for the Thunder. That just leaves the issue of the Point God himself, Chris Paul. If the Thunder choose to keep Paul for the duration of the season, he will help their team. The Thunder made the moves that they made with the idea that they are building for the future. They own a number of draft picks over the next few seasons and this season will be one where they hope to develop their young players and build for that future.
Player to Watch: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Team X-Factor: Roster Moves
Worst Case Scenario: The Thunder are unable to find anyone willing to take Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks nothing like the rookie who showed so much potential last season.
Best Case Scenario: The Thunder are able to move their undesirable contracts and now have a treasure chest of draft picks to build with.
Actual 2019-2020 Prediction: 34-48, 5th Northwest Division