When the elite trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook all no longer on the Thunder going into the season, the road back to the top seemed distant. However, this Thunder squad is not looking like they are going anywhere anytime soon, and the with the amount of assets they accumulated, their road back to being a contender might be much shorter than we thought.
The Thunder are currently in the playoff picture, sitting at 7th in the conference with a record of 23-17. Head Coach Billy Donovan is in his 5th year leading the team and has yet to have a losing season with the team, and this year is not looking much different. This team is a very guard heavy squad with veteran and potential future hall-of-famer Chris Paul, rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder all averaging near 20 points a game. Danilo Galinari has also been significantly attributing to the scoring output as well with 18.6 points per game.
Gilgeous-Alexander had a historic performance in their last game by being one of the youngest players in the history of the league with a triple-double performance that included 20 rebounds! His size, length, and craftyness at the guard position makes him a unique talent and the core of the rebuilding efforts of the Thunder.
Defense has been the strength of the Thunder thus far. They are currently 10th in the league in opponents’ points per game playing in the Western Conference, which certainly holds weight when facing the talents of Lebron James, James Harden, Devin Booker, and many other elite offensive showstoppers night in and night out. Dennis Schroder has done his part on the perimeter, currently 8th in defensive win shares. Both Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel have both been averaging over a block per game. Although not much of a scorer, Terrance Ferguson has been a nightmare for opposing NBA superstars and his most recent victim was James Harden, holding him to a season worst 17 points on 5-17 shooting.
That is not all for the Thunder. As well as acquiring current team leaders Chris Paul (who has been rumored to get traded but starting on the team), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Galinari they have a whopping total of 15 first-round draft picks in the next 7 drafts. With already having a roster with an average of 26 years old, an amazing GM Sam Presti has had a remarkable history of accumulating talent through the draft. Now that they have 15 first-round picks at his disposal, the Thunder can become the new Spurs of the Western Conference.