The Oklahoma City Thunder were expected to be among the NBA's worst teams after 2022 second-overall pick Chet Holmgren went down with an injury before the season, but they shattered expectations.
Holmgren is now healthy and the Thunder are coming into the 2023/24 season with momentum, and the offseason acquisition of Victor Oladipo indicates that they mean business.
The Oklahoma City Thunder finished 10th in the Western Conference in 2022/23, ending the season with a 40-42 record.
That record put them third in the Northwest Division, behind the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves but ahead of the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers.
The Thunder qualified for the play-in round thanks to finishing 10th in the conference, but they fell to the Timberwolves.
|2022/23 Oklahoma City Thunder||Record: 40-42|
|Result: Lost West Play-In Round|
|To win 2023/24 NBA Championship:||+10000|
|To win 2023/24 Western Conference:||+5000|
Gilgeous-Alexander turned into a star last season, which led to his first All Star and All-NBA First Team selections.
In 2022/23, he set career highs in points per game (31.4), free-throw percentage (90.5), field goal percentage (51.0), field goal attempts per game (20.3), steals per game (1.6) and blocks per game (1.0).
SGA will have less of a scoring burden with Holmgren healthy, the addition of sharpshooters Davis Bertans and Victor Oladipo, and young players like Jalen Williams, Lu Dort, Isaiah Joe, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski, Jaylin Williams, and Josh Giddey all having another year of NBA experience under their belts.
Davis Bertans (F) Dallas
Bruce Brown (G/F) Denver
Vasilije Micic (G) Anadolu Efes
Victor Oladipo (G) Miami
Jack White (F) Denver
Jared Butler (G) Washington
Dario Saric (F/C) Golden State
The Thunder begin their season with an away game against the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 25. Four days later is the first real litmus test to see if they truly improved in the offseason: They host the raining NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets.
The Thunder play the Golden State Warriors in Oklahoma City on Nov. 3. On Nov. 12, they go on the road and play the new-look Phoenix Suns. Two days later, they play rookie Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs, before two consecutive away games against the Warriors on Nov. 16 and 18.
OKC takes on the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 30 to close out the month and a brutal early schedule.
The Thunder roster has only improved from last season. Their core of young players is a year older and a year more experienced, plus Holmgren returns from his injury.
The Thunder have a big group of players under 25 who should take steps forward this season, highlighted by small forward Lu Dort, shooting guard Jalen Williams, power forward/center Jaylin Williams, guard Josh Giddey, and forward Aleksej Pokusevski.
They narrowly missed out on the playoffs after losing in the play-in round, but with Holmgren healthy and Oladipo providing a veteran presence and elite three-point shooting next to star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there is no reason why they should not make the playoffs this time around.
The Thunder are +10000 to win the NBA Championship in 2023/24, the 19th-shortest odds in the league, and they are -130 to make the playoffs. Their over/under for total regular season wins is 44.5, which indicates an improvement upon last season.
Gilgeous-Alexander has the eighth-shortest odds to win the league's MVP award at +1600, and he has the third-shortest odds for Clutch Player of the Year at +1200.
Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault is +1000 to win Coach of the Year, the joint-fourth-shortest odds.
Dort is +5000 to win Defensive Player of the Year, while Holmgren is +6000 to win it.
Giddey has the 10th-shortest odds to win Most Improved Player at +2000, while Jalen Williams is +2800 to win it.
Holmgren has the third-shortest odds for Rookie of the Year at +350. Vasilije Micic, a 29-year-old guard, is +3500 to win it after coming over to the States this summer on the back of a hugely successful career in Europe.