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Scouting the Enemy: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder shake things up after another first round exit

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to be “scouting the enemy,” as we’ll be covering the outlook for the 29 other teams in the league ahead of the 2019-2020 season.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

NBA: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Former Grizzlies: *technically* Darius Bazley

Offseason in Review:

After their 3rd straight 1st round loss, the Thunder blew things up and rebuilt on the fly this past offseason. The offseason started out slow, with the Thunder trading the 21st pick (Brandon Clarke) to the Grizzlies for the 23rd pick and the Grizzlies 2024 second round pick. The Thunder then traded Jerami Grant to the Nuggets in exchange for Denver’s 2020 1st round pick. The team later signed Mike Muscala.

Things began to get interesting for the Thunder late in the night on July 6th. Paul George got his trade wish and was shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers where he could pair up with Kawhi Leonard. The Thunder got a massive haul in return for sending George to LA as they got Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 5 first round picks and two pick swaps. As soon as the Thunder shipped George to LA, rumors began flying about Russell Westbrook’s future with the team. The Thunder and GM Sam Presti were swift in their decision making, sending Westbrook to the Houston Rockets to pair him with former teammate James Harden. In return the Thunder got Chris Paul, 2 first round picks and 2 pick swaps.

The team recently waived Patrick Patterson so that he could join Paul George in Clipper-land.

Despite having to blow up the core of the team, the Thunder did well ending up with 7 first round picks and 4 pick swaps.


Team Outlook

The Thunder may have traded away their two best players this offseason, but they still have a chance to compete this upcoming season. A core of CP3, SGA, Gallinari and Steven Adams is solid and at least gives the Thunder options this offseason. The Thunder can try and compete in a crowded Western Conference with their new core, but also have valuable trade chips if things don’t go as planned. Steven Adams would be a solid pickup for a contender in need of a bruising big man. It seems inevitable that Chris Paul is traded to Miami to team up with Jimmy Butler. Danilo Gallinari is a valuable expiring contract whether it is used in a trade or to free up cap space next summer. SGA is a nice building block for the future, along with the 100 first round picks the Thunder picked up this offseason.

Best case scenario, the Thunder are likely heading for another first-round exit next season, if they don’t make any major moves next year. There is still plenty of optimism in OKC, though, with the multiple draft picks in stock. It will be interesting to see if the Thunder hold onto those picks or flip them for other players in an attempt to accelerate their rebuild. Regardless, the Thunder will be one of the more interesting teams to keep up with over the next handful of years even if they aren’t the championship pretending team they’ve been over the past handful of seasons.

Follow @sbngrizzlies for further “Scouting the Enemy” posts.