The NBA Season is here! The Thunder play a basketball game today! It is time to preview said season! You can check out a Thunder season preview in podcast form by heading over to Locked on Thunder and the Bricktown Buckets podcasts! This roundtable is the burning questions sent to all of our BTB contributors and they will let guide you through this wild season.
Will the Thunder have the worst record in the NBA? If not, who all will be worse than them?
Rylan Stiles: I do not think the Thunder will have the worst record in the NBA because the Knicks exist. However, they will be the second worse team and still have a 14% chance at landing the top pick.
Adam McCracken: I don’t think so. I think there will be 1-3 teams that have nothing to play for down the stretch and they choose to give up. The Thunder have a solid future with a plethora of picks, so development will be key. By the end of the year, they will be improving. I’d say 3rd worst record.
Logan Meyer: If they manage to trade Al Horford and George Hill, they will definitely be at the bottom or close. If not, I think they will win more games than predicted.
Kamran Nia: The thunder will have the second-worst record I believe the Pistons will be the worst team in the NBA. I think the Thunder have a good fight in them which will allow them to win some games.
Who will take the biggest leap for the Thunder this season?
McCracken: The obvious is SGA, but I think Bazley makes the jump to a possible 13-8 kind of player, along with some 15-10 games. He will be a huge part of the team this year.
Stiles: Darius Bazley will take the biggest leap when you factor in the perception of the player coming into the season, but purely on counting stats and National attention, it will be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander without question.
Meyer: I think SGA and Bazley will both make dramatic leaps in development this year. With Bazley being younger, I guess I’d say he will make the “biggest” leap.
Nia: SGA. There are some other close guys I believe have a chance like Darius Bazley, Lu Dort, and Justin Jackson but with SGA in his new role at PG or at least more ball-handling duties he should be able to average 25+ and improve his passing tremendously.
At the end of this season, how many pieces of the core will OKC have?
McCracken: I think 5 is safe with SGA, Dort, Bazley, and the 2 rookies in Poku and Maledon. I expect one or two guys (Diallo, Jackson, Jerome) to perform well enough to be part of the future. I expect a big rejuvenation for Horford, leading to yet another Sam Presti project turned into a pick. George Hill will be productive but isn’t a part of the future.
Stiles: When thinking about true pieces to a core this is incredibly hard, when you look at even SGA if the Thunder miss on their 2021 draft picks and do not find that star, does SGA no longer fit the timeline? I will have it as SGA, Dort, Bazley, and a wait-and-see approach with Maledon and Poku after I expect them both to have a good rookie season.
Meyer: I’m very confident SGA and Bazley are part of core moving forward. I feel like Dort has a good chance as well, but he has some areas of his game that definitely need refinement (shooting, movement without the ball, etc.) As for Theo and Poku, it’s way too early to tell.
Nia: I think Theo, SGA, Dort, and Bazley will be part of the core once the Thunder are contending again. I don’t expect Poku to be a star talent or a player who starts unless he really hits the weight room. I just see too much of his game that needs improvement. I expect the Thunder to have all 5 of our young core players still at the end of the season though.
What is the most exciting thing about this season on the floor for OKC?
McCracken: The future. The Thunder have a lot of talent, but they are young. This isn’t a full tank, but a chance to see who is ready to take it to the next level. Will SGA become a star? Will Bazley and Dort take that next step? Will the rookies prove to be high-value picks?
Stiles: I think Darius Bazley being an aggressive player with create some massive highlights for this OKC team.
Meyer: The most exciting thing will be watching the development of the young guys as they experience the various ups and downs of the season and grow through them.
Nia: I think seeing all of the young players grow is going to be exciting. If Theo can develop into the starting PG, then having SGA, Dort, Bazley at the 2, 3,4 respectively, there is a lot of positives for this team. I think just watching the young guys do their thing without any pressure to win will be super exciting.
What OKC matchup are you most looking forward to in the first half of the season?
McCracken: The first game of the year. I want to see a dysfunctional Rockets team. As long as they aren’t one of the worst 4 teams, OKC gets their pick. I would love to see enough problems that lead to another lottery pick for OKC.
Stiles: I can not wait to see the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on New Years Eve, the Thunder keep their NYE tradition alive but STEVEN ADAMS RETURNS TO OKC!
Meyer: The First Half matchup that I’m most looking forward to is Thunder/Hornets. It will be fun to see two of the most fascinating prospects from the Draft, Poku and LaMelo Ball, square off on the court.
Nia: Thunder vs Pelicans (12/31). Steven Adams return to Oklahoma City will be super heartwarming.
Who will win these NBA Awards: MVP, DPOY, MIP, COY, 6th man of the year, executive of the year
McCracken: MVP- Luka Doncic DPOY- Bam Adebayo MIP– Michael Porter Jr. 6th man– Spencer Dinwiddie COY– Monty Williams ROY– Obi Toppin Executive of the year: Rob Pelinka
Stiles: MVP: Luka Doncic DPOY: Anthony Davis MIP: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 6th Man: Caris LeVert COY: Monty Williams ROY: LaMelo Ball EOTY: Rob Pelinka
Meyer: MVP: Giannis, DPOY: Anthony Davis, MIP: SGA, COY: Steve Nash, 6MOY: Spencer Dinwiddie, EOY: Rob Pelinka.
Nia: MVP: Luka Doncic. Without Porzingis for some time Luka should be in line to be very successful for the first few weeks and will be hot throughout the regular season.
DPOY: Giannis Antetokonumpo. With Luka winning MVP, Giannis will continue to be dominant on both sides of the ball; since he won’t be winning MVP I expect the media to give Giannis the DPOY award.
MIP: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA is in line for a much larger role and he should be able to improve multiple areas of his game making him the MIP.
COY: Scott Brooks. With Westbrook in Washington, the Wizards will have a breakout year shocking everyone finishing in the top 6 of the east.
6MOTY: Lou Williams. With Schroder moving to a starting role and Montrezl on a stacked lakers team Lou should continue to dominate off the bench winning the 6MOTY award
EOTY: Tommy Sheppard (Wizards) Sheppard made the blockbuster trade of the offseason and it will lead the Wizards to a playoff run making him the executive of the year.
Who will make and win each conference finals
McCracken: WCF: Lakers ECF: Nets
Stiles: WCF: Lakers vs Clippers (Lakers win in 6) and ECF: Nets vs Bucks (Nets in 5)
Meyer: West Finals: Lakers vs Nuggets (Lakers win). East Finals: Nets vs Bucks (Bucks win)
Nia: WCF: Lakers ECF: Wizards. Westbrook and Beal will lead a young team to a shocking run to the finals and both players will be in the top 10 for MVP voting. Deni Advija will have a great rookie year and Rui will play well after his injury with Bertans off the bench as the 6th man.
Who will win the NBA championship?
Which Thunder player who was traded away from last year’s team will have the best season?
McCracken: Dennis Schroder will have the best season with all factors included. I believe he will be the 3rd scorer on the Lakers ahead of Harrell and Kuzma, he will hit some big shots, and he will get his first ring.
Stiles: Chris Paul is going to be so effective with the Suns that he will once again steal all the headlines of this group. However, do not undervalue Gallo’s role in Atlanta.
Meyer: CP3 will be the former Thunder to have the best season.
Nia: Gallo. Gallanari will shock everyone and help the Hawks to the playoffs. Gallo will average 15-20 points but be a key part of a playoff Hawks team mainly scoring from beyond the arc.
Will Al Horford be worth a first-round pick in the offseason?
McCracken: Worth it? No, though he will be a great addition for a contender and a definite 2nd round pick value. Will OKC get a first? I wouldn’t underestimate Presti!
Stiles: With the once loaded 2021 Free Agency class dwindling by the day, and with so many teams vying for the postseason this year a team is bound to be disappointed. Quickly Al Horford is becoming one of the top ways to improve your team this offseason. His salary is also a declining one and OKC has put themselves in a position with their future cap sheet to take on another bad contract in a Horford swap. He will be able to net the Thunder a first-round pick this offseason.
Nia: Yes. Al will show that the 76ers did not put him in the right role.