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Oklahoma City Thunder End Of Season Report

Yahoo! Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder finished the 2022-2023 season with a 40-42 record. This was just enough for the team to finish tenth in the Western Conference and qualify for the NBA Play-In Tournament

The Thunder advanced in the first round against the New Orleans Pelicans in a close 123-118 victory. The Thunder fell at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves though, with a 120-95 loss in the second round of the Play-In and were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.  




The Thunder came into the season with relatively low expectations in regards to their performance. Their 2022 second overall pick, Chet Holmgren, had a season-ending Lisfranc injury to his right foot while participating in the Crawsover League during the pre-season. This naturally threw a wrench into the Thunder’s plans for the season. Back Sports Page projected the Thunder to be competing for a lottery pick in our Season Preview and vying potentially for the services of Victor Wembanyama

The Thunder came into the season with one of the youngest rosters on paper. The team added Holmgren, Jalen Williams, Ousmane Dieng and Jaylin Williams in the 2022 NBA Draft. The team was expected to pair their new additions with the young core of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and Luguentz Dort. The roster was expected to be given another year of grace to provide rising stars like Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey time to develop and grow into their games while offering playing time to the rookies within their rebuilding timeline. What actually transpired was surprising for most NBA analysts and fans. 


Offense: B+


The Thunder finished the season ranking fifth in team points per game (117.5), sixth in pace of play (101.1) and thirteenth in offensive rating (115.2.) The team was relatively efficient with the ball ranking fifth in turnovers per game (13.0) but overall needed work in terms of shooting efficiency.

The Thunder ranked twenty-fourth in the league in field goal percentage and seventeenth in three-point percentage, finishing with 46.5/35.6/80.9 team shooting splits. The year-over-year improvements here were negligible, but on higher two-point and free-throw attempt volume, improved the offensive output significantly compared to the year prior. 

Gilgeous-Alexander was the Thunders most significant contributor on offense, finishing within the top-forty in the league in box plus-minus (BPM) with an OBPM of 5.8 and ranked fifth in the league in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) with 5.6. VORP is a similar statistic to Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball which attempts to quantify the value of an individual players’ impact on the sport.  

Gilgeous-Alexander finished fourth in the NBA in scoring average at 31.4 ppg while contributing 5.5 apg and snagging 4.8 rpg as a guard. Gilgeous-Alexander was a first-time All-Star, finished second in Most Improved Player Award to Lauri Markkanen and will likely be voted to one of the All-NBA teams this year. The year-over-year improvement for Gilgeous-Alexander was tremendous and the fifth-year guard will be a valuable building block as the Thunder seek to contend in the next few years. 

Supporting Cast

Giddey saw significant improvement this year as well. Giddey raised his shooting percentages across the board and increased his offensive output from 12.5 ppg in his rookie year to 16.5 ppg in his sophomore season. The Australian native maintained his assist numbers and split primary playmaking duties with Gilgeous-Alexander throughout the season. The pairing can be clunky at times with Giddey’s outside shooting still below league average but this partnership should improve over time. 

The Thunder had offensive contributions from Dort and the emergence of Isaiah Joe as their resident sharp-shooter.  Joe led the league in three-point percentage at the All-Star Break with a scorching 47% but cooled off to finish around 40% on the season. Dort’s production decreased in terms offensive volume from last year and likely was the result of the breakout rookie season of Jalen “J-Dub” Williams. 

Williams finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and was named to the All-NBA Rookie First Team. Williams averaged 14.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 3.3 apg on 52.1/35.6/81.2 shooting splits. The rookie guard really caught fire in the second half of the season and helped to propel the Thunder into the Play-In Tournament. 

The Thunder’s overall offense was high scoring and fast which made it difficult to defend. The team will look to improve upon these strengths going into next season and clean up the efficiency where it can. 


Defense: C-


The Thunder concluded the regular season with their opponents averaging 116.4 points per game which was ranked nineteenth in the NBA. The Thunder had an overall defensive rating of 114.2, placing the team fourteenth in the league. The team excelled in certain aspects on the defensive end but suffered in others. 

The team ranked fourth in steals per game (8.2) but ranked in the middle of the pack in total rebounds per game at fourteenth. The Thunder’s apparent weakness comes down low without a dominant defensive presence at the four and five spots this year. The Thunder did what they could to optimize their speed and length to deflect passes and capitalize on steals, translating those opportunities into fast break points. 

The team was ranked twenty-ninth in both offensive and defensive rebounds allowed and thirtieth in total rebounds allowed by opponents. Their gaps inside are apparent especially without Holmgren patrolling down low this season. The lack of size will need to be addressed in the offseason for the Thunder to bridge that gap defensively. 

Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, Jaylin Williams, Darius Bazley, Kenrich Williams and Aleksej Pokusevski were the only players with positive DPM on the roster. Gilgeous-Alexander led the team with a 1.5 DPM, accruing 1.7 spg and 1.0 bpg as a perimeter defender. 


Overall Grade: A


The Thunder far exceeded any expectations that were ahead of the team going into the season. Head coach Mark Daigneault was the runner-up for the Coach of the Year Award behind Mike Brown for his efforts and creativity with this Thunder squad. 

Gilgeous-Alexander took the leap from fringe All-Star candidate to a potential perennial All-NBA talent at his position. The Kentucky product demonstrated his ability to carry the team in defining moments and will be a key piece to the Thunder returning to contention. The organization will anxiously await the debut of Holmgren next season and will need him to help fix the defensive gaps in the paint. 

The Thunder have a treasure trove of picks and assets that can be utilized to trade for valuable pieces to build upon their momentum or continue to follow the path General Manager Sam Presti has set before them. The focus should be on developing the Thunder’s young talent and building further through the draft while strategically adding veteran pieces to reinforce the roster. The future looks bright for this team and Thunder fans should feel optimistic about the direction of the organization going forward.


Rob Korensky is Back Sports Page’s Basketball & Golf Editor. Rob has written content for the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL & PGA Tour in his tenure at BSP. Rob is the host of BSP’s Gopher Patrol golf podcast and a frequent guest contributor to the Cut The Nets basketball podcast within the BSP network. Rob was born in Hinsdale, Illinois but spent his formative years in Rochester, New York and currently resides in Central Texas. You can find Rob on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @RobKorensky

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