The Oklahoma City Thunder have stunned the league this season, pulling off what could be the best rebuild of all time. With a roster chock-full of young, blossoming talent, we all expected some major growth this season, but this is just crazy. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has taken massive strides this year, becoming one of the league’s top guards, while the rest of the roster has seen demonstrable improvement across the board.

And don’t even get us started on the big man, Chet Holmgren – his 2.8 blocks per game alone make him instantly one of the best rim protectors in the league already.

The Perfect Rebuild

Most of us are familiar with the term rebuild by this point, with plenty of our favourite teams tanking over the years such as Philadelphia. However, we haven’t seen anything like the 2023-24 OKC roster, where instead of tanking during the rebuild, they find themselves third in the Western Conference.

Sitting sixth in the league in terms of both offensive and defensive rating, OKC is easily in the top half of teams in the league on both sides of the ball.

And while there are some definite holes that need to be filled, especially with no real bulk in the front court and no lock-down perimeter defender, they are nonetheless good.

They have already created a blueprint for future success and will likely continue to win more and more over the next couple of seasons before becoming a serious contender. It seems as though the Oklahoma City Thunder head office has finally recovered some face after what they did in the early 2010s.

Chet Holmgren Hit The Ground Running

Chet Holmgren may still be a rookie, but it seems like he found the perfect team for him as soon as he entered the league. His defensive prowess, along with his ability to space the floor on offence, fits exactly what OKC needs right now.

It’s almost like these new-era big men are being created in a lab, perfectly slotting into what a modern NBA team wants. With a solid outside shot, decent lateral movement, great shot blocking, and the ability to finish at the rim, what more could you ask for?

But don’t forget, this is just the beginning – Chet Holmgren has so much upside that it’s not even funny. If it wasn’t for the anomaly that is Victor Wembanyama, all eyes would have been on Chet in the 2023 NBA Draft.

If Holmgren grows as a player like he is expected to and SGA can mesh well with him, this is going to be a dangerous duo.

Huge Growth Across The Board

The entire OKC core has seen a massive improvement year over year as they continue to add key pieces. From the aforementioned Chet Holmgren to the steadily improving Josh Giddey, it’s not just Shai Gilgeous-Alexander making waves in the NBA.

While obviously, SGA is the leader on the team and has really taken the reins on offence, the improved spacing this year from his teammates has helped his game tremendously.

The isolation-focused guard has more real estate to work with and better shooters at almost every position to kick to. Jalen Williams, in particular, has been a consistent shooter alongside Holmgren and has upped his scoring average again this season.

However, as we said above, it’s not only their offence that has improved.

Their defence has been great so far this season. Holmgren locks up the inside and makes slashers think twice before making a drive.

To say the rookie has improved the defence is an understatement – his 2.8 blocks per game already put him in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.

Oklahoma City’s Prospects For The Rest of The Season

Seeing as OKC is in the slightly easier Western Conference, they’ll likely manage to finish with a top-four seed going into the playoffs. Save for any major injuries, they should have no issues making it through the regular season.

The only real issue with this team is that they lack any real playoff experience, and their over-reliance on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for offence puts them in a tricky situation.

As we’ve seen in the past, it’s all too easy for a team to key in on just one player during the playoffs and come away with the series, especially when they play isolation ball like SGA does.

That’s to say, they’re a solid regular-season team that should finish with around 45 wins. But their lack of a real 3-and-D player, spacing issues, and no real secondary scoring option will pose issues in the postseason.

Don’t get us wrong, OKC has been fantastic this year, but they still have one or two more seasons before they get it down. If either Jalen Willams or Chet Holmgren can become a solid 25PPG scorer, the league will need to be on notice.

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