For the first time since 2011, the Oklahoma City Thunder is not playing basketball on Christmas Day. Whoever decides the NBA schedule made the decision to leave them off the Christmas Day slate, and somewhat understandably so, likely due to the massive changes made over the summer.
Even with no Thunder basketball game to look forward to later today, it’s important to be thankful for what we have as an organization, and maybe even take some time to list the things we would like to receive from Thunder Santa.
This goes without saying. The Oklahoma City Thunder has an extremely young roster (9 players aged 25 years or younger) and a ton of potential that has fans excited for the next generation of Thunder basketball.
Since the inception of the franchise, Thunder GM Sam Presti has done a solid job of carefully selecting players to bring in and develop, whether it be through the draft or via trade.
In the early years, Presti used lottery picks to draft Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, all eventual superstars and MVPs. With other draft picks, he’s selected solid players—Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Terrance Ferguson—who have played their roles well in Oklahoma City. He’s traded for guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo. Then there’s the rookie Darius Bazley, who looks like a diamond that Presti found in the rough.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the Thunder’s current phase of the franchise is developing the young guys into their future roles on the team. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a budding star, Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo are developing into solid wing players, and Darius Bazley’s ceiling is unknown at this point.
Head Coach Billy Donovan has done a great job with his team so far, and with 53 games left in the regular season, his focus primarily needs to be on maturing the young core and honing their skillsets that are becoming more and more apparent.
A Healthy Roster
Injuries have plagued the Thunder for many years, ruining playoff runs and even keeping Oklahoma City from having a chance at winning a ring. This season, OKC hasn’t had too many major injuries, the worst being Hamidou Diallo missing extended time with a hyperextension in his right elbow, unless you’re counting the continued absence of Andre Roberson.
Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari have been injury prone throughout the latter years of their careers, so keeping them healthy should be heavily prioritized, whether they’re playing for OKC or they’re being used as a trade piece.
Regardless of history, injury can strike at any time, and nothing can ruin a bright history like losing a player to a freak accident. I don’t want anymore wild, unexpected injuries. Let’s keep everyone healthy.
Oh, and for goodness sake, PLEASE let Andre Roberson make his way back onto the court at SOME point this season.
Keep the Team As Is
I get it. Plenty of fans want to trade players away for more future picks and assets. “Think of the future,” they say. Here’s the thing: you don’t really have to make any immediate changes.
The Thunder is in a pretty solid place concerning the salary cap, and they control their own destiny with the slew of draft picks they currently hold. There’s no need to make moves just because it’s something to do. If the right package comes along, then I trust Sam Presti to do what he does best, but if it’s not something that’s genuinely going to improve the outlook of the franchise, then why rush?
The current contracts on the books are, for the most part, manageable. The upcoming draft has been labeled as a “down” year, so who really knows what players are going to contribute in the future NBA. Who knows, Presti could end up finding a great player with a lower draft pick. If not, he can always trade a number of picks to move up to the spot that he wants.
No matter what decisions Sam Presti makes before the trade deadline, I’m completely okay with the roster remaining as is and seeing how far these guys can take this team.
The Return of Loud City
Fan attendance at Chesapeake Energy Arena has been a bit down this season, to say the least. It’s hard to blame fans, especially ones that have been around since the beginning, whenever the roster experienced a near complete overhaul in the summer.
Still, going from one of the best fanbases to an arena that seems somewhat empty is not a great look. This team is as exciting to watch as Oklahoma City has had in years, and while there’s not the superstar draw that past players brought, there is still plenty of action to watch.
Thunder fans, let’s bring Loud City back to its former greatness. Let’s buy up those incredibly cheap tickets and fill the seats with the rowdy greatness that is so much a part of the Oklahoma standard.
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