The Oklahoma City Thunder entered the 2020-21 NBA season with low expectations. They had traded away veteran All-Stars Chris Paul and Steven Adams in the offseason and were focused on developing their young talent.
The Thunder have one of the youngest rosters in the league, with an average age of 23 years old, and are in the midst of a rebuild. However, despite the lack of experience, the Thunder have shown flashes of potential this season, and they put it all together in their play-in victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Led by their rising star, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder overcame a slow start to beat the Pelicans 113-110 and secure their spot in the play-in tournament.
SGA, who is in his third season in the league, is quickly emerging as one of the top young players in the NBA. He scored 21 points, dished out 8 assists, and grabbed 5 rebounds in the win over the Pelicans.
SGA is a unique player who has the size, athleticism, and skill set to be a versatile point guard in the modern NBA. He has a smooth shooting stroke, can finish at the rim with either hand and is an excellent passer.
He is also a solid defender who can guard multiple positions. The Thunder acquired SGA in the Paul George trade with the Clippers in 2019, and he has quickly become the face of the franchise.
However, SGA is not the only young player on the Thunder who has shown promise this season. The team has several other rising stars who played important roles in the win over the Pelicans.
Lu Dort, who is only 22 years old, is a tenacious defender who has developed into a reliable three-point shooter. He scored 12 points and grabbed 3 rebounds in the win. Darius Bazley, who is also 22 years old, is a versatile forward who can score from inside and outside.
He had 13 points and 9 rebounds in the victory. Theo Maledon, a 19-year-old rookie from France, is a crafty playmaker who had 7 points and 4 assists in the game.
The Thunder’s youth movement has been a work in progress this season, but they have shown that they have the talent to compete in the NBA.
They have been competitive in many games this season and have shown flashes of brilliance. The win over the Pelicans was a culmination of their progress and a sign of what could be to come for this young and talented team.
The Thunder’s future is also bright because of their impressive draft capital. They have accumulated a treasure trove of draft picks in recent years through trades, including several first-round picks from the Clippers and the Houston Rockets.
The Thunder will have the opportunity to add more young talent to their roster in the coming years, which will only enhance their potential.
However, despite the promising future, the Thunder is still in the midst of a rebuild, and there will be growing pains. They finished the season with a record of 22-50, which was the fourth-worst in the league.
They will face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the play-in tournament, and it will be a challenging matchup. The Grizzlies are a talented young team led by Ja Morant, who is one of the top young point guards in the league.
The Thunder will need another strong performance from SGA and their rising stars to have a chance to advance to the playoffs. However, win or lose, the Thunder’s play-in victory over the Pelicans was a sign of their potential.