When questions need answers, we go to the Boomtown team hive mind. Sometimes we’ll start a sentence and don’t even know where it’s going. We just hope we find it along the way. Let’s see what the team thinks… Conference room, 5 minutes!
- What’s your Thunder hot take/bold prediction for the season?
Stephen: My bold prediction is that Jalen Williams makes Rookie 1st Team. He’s shown a lot of flash already in the preseason games. He has the 6th best odds of winning Rookie of the Year which would place him just outside the 1st Team. However, with the way that the Thunder is structured currently I believe this gives Jalen Williams the best shot to propel himself to All Rookie 1st Team.
Jackson H: Josh Giddey wins Most Improved Player. He’s a longshot at +4000 (40/1), but I see a huge leap coming for Giddey this season. While he didn’t shoot the ball well in Summer League, he shot 53.3% in Preseason on three attempts per game. Obviously, he won’t continue to shoot it at this clip but the early work with new shooting coach Chip Engelland appears to be paying off already and I expect his assist and rebound numbers to both go up as well. Season Prediction: 17ppg/8rpg/8apg for the second year rising star.
Bobby H: Aside from Poku to win MVP, my biggest prediction is that the Thunder finish the season with a healthy SGA and Dort. I think other teams are better equipped to out tank OKC and they just let the guys run. OKC will float around the Play-In, much to the chagrin of those dreaming of a Chet Holmgren-Victor Wembanyama duo.
- The Thunder’s win total is set at 24.5 wins (Caesar’s). Over or under?
Dillon: Over. I think this is the year that our talent/good coaching/culture overcomes our desire to lose for a higher draft pick. I think most everyone knows that the Thunder need to continue to swing for the fences in the draft, but there are plenty of guys who need to do well to stay in the league/on this team. Look at it from a player’s perspective… Wiggins, Poku, Baze… You think these guys are wanting to lose just so we can go get a player that will potentially hurt their chances of playing more or even earning more money?
Jackson H: Under. If you shop around you can find the win total as low as 22.5 and I think that the Thunder likely end up at 23 or 24 wins. I expect this group to play hard every night, but I think there will be a ton of line up variations from Daignault and ultimately this is a young group with not a ton of experience. I do think that the experience gained this year pays off next year and you can go ahead and put me down for the over for next year, no matter the number.
Arnav: Over. There will be some progress from last season, where the Thunder notched 24 wins on the year. Shai is entering his fifth season in the league and I believe he is ready to truly come in and backpack the team, especially after his strong showing for Team Canada this summer. I could see a rough start to the schedule but I do believe a lot of these fringe playoff teams will be caught off guard by this team’s active defense and high motor motion offense, leading to a couple of stolen Thunder W’s to get us over the mark.
- The Thunder lineup will feature 3 rookies this season. Which one are you most excited to see and why?
Stephen: I think most people would say Jalen Williams (J-Dub) but I am very curious to see how Ousmane Dieng fits into this Thunder roster. When Sam Presti took this 6’9” forward to me this just screamed Bazely’s replacement. Now granted, he has a ways to go to catch up to Bazely’s skill level. Based on preseason games he has looked pretty good for a young rookie and the stats back it up. He shot 56% from inside the arc and 51% from the outside over the 5 preseason games he played in. Overall, I am excited to see how these 3 rookies handle their first season in the NBA but Dieng is the most intriguing Thunder rookie this year.
Bobby: I’m incredibly intrigued with Jalen Williams. From early returns, he just looks like that two way type of guard that I dreamed about OKC having when they were at the peak of competition in the KD-Russ era. I think he’s going to make a real run at the All-Rookie Team.
Kade: Ousmane Dieng also catches my eye, simply because he’s what we thought Poku could be with a guard skill set at a big-man’s height. Jalen Williams will likely be more versatile and get more burn, but Dieng’s progression will be incredibly fun to follow this season. Dieng will also be able to jump into some fun lineups and make big plays.
- Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokusevski are both players that have had their ups and downs with the Thunder over the last few seasons. What does this year/the future look like for these two players?
Dillon: I feel like the only person in the state of Oklahoma that doesn’t think Poku can play basketball. I just don’t see it. I think we get another half of a season of Project: Poku, but I definitely don’t think we’ll see him start. Baze, on the other hand, has every single thing a good basketball player should have. I think he’s on a “prove-it” year and he’ll be given every opportunity to do that. I think I’d pick Baze to be on this team next year over Poku.
Arnav: I don’t think either of these players has a long term future with the Thunder. After declining to extend Baze I think he is most likely gone before the start of the new year. Regarding Poku, I think this is his true show it or lose it year, as he has not shown any form of consistent development. After his fair showing in the preseason, I do believe Poku will get a lot of opportunities this year as the team evaluates his future. However, I just do not see it working out long term, as the Thunder have a bunch of young players that will need to receive playing time. The team will have limited time to wait on Poku’s development into a solid NBA player, which currently seems like a moonshot.
Stephen: With the news that the Thunder did not pick up Bazely’s option next year he will be entering next season as a restricted free agent. I think being in a contract year this should hopefully elevate his game to the next level and bring him to where all Thunder fans have expected him to be. Still expecting some ups and downs as always with Bazely but I am looking for a more consistent and better Darius Bazely. Now Poku on the other hand. Project Poku hasn’t seemed to take off like everyone was expecting. After a stint with the Blue last season he seemed to get a decent run last year but never really got it fully put together. I think this year is ultimately going to decide Poku’s future in the league. If he can put it together, I think the Thunder will have a solid bench player but I don’t see him being able to start with what the Thunder have put together in the last 2 years of the draft.