News Analysis: OKC Thunder: An NBA Season in Preview: Building Momentum

The NBA’s OKC Thunder succeeded in attaining 40 wins last season, due in large part to the superstar talent of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and his fellow teammates, such as running mate Josh Giddy, a small forward who averaged 16.6 points per game last season. Unfortunately for the Thunder in the preseason of the 2022-2023 NBA season, Chet Holmgren, a rookie Thunder center who stands 7 feet, 1 inch tall and the number two pick from the 2022 draft, suffered a Lisfranc or high ankle injury while attempting to guard LeBron James on a fast break. The Thunder reached the NBA play-in the 2023-2023 season, wherein they lost their chances in the playoffs due to a well-coached, and talented Minnesota Timberwolves team. 

A pair of Chet Holmgren’s basketball sneakers are hanging inside an OKC Thunder promotional bus at the Sunny Dayz Mural Festival in Tulsa as a display of player’s gear. (Photo by Chase Goza)

The OKC Thunder traded for a veteran in Victor Oladipo in this post season. Oladipo has been in the NBA for the past 10 years and is a former member of the Miami Heat, an organization that has competed intensely in past playoff series with the OKC Thunder. The shooting guard is remembered by the many young players, who were kids when they witnessed OKC’s playoff hopes on television, with the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, who together led the squad to the NBA Finals in 2012, a decade ago. 

With a healthy Chet Holmgren going into the 2023-2024 NBA season, and a talented young core with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (who averaged a prolific 31.4 points per game in the 2022-2023 season) as the head of the snake, the Oklahoma City Thunder may have a chance to make a deep run into the playoffs in a talented Western Conference. After all, with the addition of Holmgren, who averaged 14.1 points per game on 9.9 rebounds per game at Gonzaga College, the Thunder greatly increased their defensive capabilities by adding his wingspan, which is 7 feet, 6 inches. Holmgren is renowned for his supreme blocking and rebounding abilities even as a rookie and at the young age of 21 years old, as he averaged an impressive 3.7 blocks per game while in college. This 2023 Summer League has shown that Holmgren can perhaps be a dominant force in the NBA as he averaged 14.2 points and 10 rebounds per game across the span of three games. 

In terms of winning Rookie of the Year, Holmgren will be competing with the number one NBA draft pick and San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama. The center is the first French player to be an NBA number one pick after making waves in the French league known as the LNB Pro A. LNB Pro A is the top tier basketball league in France, where Wembanyama became the youngest MVP (Most Valuable Player) in its league’s history. We will see how this upcoming 2023-2024 NBA season turns out for these up-and-coming stars. 

The size of Chet Holmgren’s hands in comparison to a basketball are on display at an OKC Thunder promotional bus in Tulsa. (Photo by Chase Goza)
The OKC Thunder have yet to win a title after the Seattle Supersonics, who achieved one championship in 1979, relocated to Oklahoma City. (Photo by
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