The 2022-23 NBA season is lower than a month away, which means coaching camp and preseason matchups are nearly underway. This can be a vital time for the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, who’re a particularly younger staff and have to construct as a lot chemistry as potential.
Whereas Oklahoma Metropolis isn’t projected to be a playoff staff this season, Thunder GM Sam Presti is coming into the season prepared for the staff to enhance no matter document.
“I don’t suppose anybody would say we aren’t a piece in progress, however I feel we’re a greater staff than we have been presently final season,” mentioned Presti in a presser on Wednesday.
He would go on to say that not solely is the staff higher now than it was on the shut of final season, however he additionally expects the staff to be higher on the finish of the upcoming marketing campaign than they’re now.
It’s by no means a good suggestion for a staff to enter the season with a closed thoughts. The Thunder are coming into the 2022-23 marketing campaign able to compete, and can make strikes and regulate rotations because the season goes on relying on how the season goes.
“Nobody is aware of how this season goes to go. Save your predictions, burn your assumptions. There are not any info in regards to the future,” mentioned Presti.
With the Thunder being such a younger, inexperienced staff, the potential outcomes of this season are extraordinarily broad.
Not solely is the Thunder roster very inexperienced, however OKC is coming into the season with probably the most tough schedule within the NBA. Nonetheless, the entrance workplace and training employees view this as a constructive, giving the staff extra of a possibility to play towards one of the best competitors as they develop.
“A lot has been made about our schedule and it’s the hardest within the league, however that’s going to make us higher,” mentioned Presti.
Whereas the upcoming season is vital for Oklahoma Metropolis, it’s actually the longer term that’s the primary focus. The 2022-23 marketing campaign can be a constructing block within the continued rebuild of the franchise.
“It is going to occur on account of a collection of seasons that add up,” mentioned the Thunder GM. “We’re searching for general enchancment over an extended time period…Scaling the second mountain, returning again to the playoffs isn’t going to occur due to one season.”
It’s been nicely documented by Presti that there can be endurance with the rebuild, as he desires the staff to be a constant playoff staff on the finish of it, not only a flash within the pan. It’s about doing what you possibly can to keep away from setbacks and acknowledging that it does take luck alongside the way in which.
Whether or not it’s luck or misfortune associated to accidents, the draft lottery or different components, these items make it practically inconceivable to foretell when the rebuild will come to an finish. If every part goes proper, maybe the Thunder might arrive as early as subsequent season. On the flip aspect, it might take one other a number of years. Both approach, the staff is ready to not making impulse selections that might be untimely.
One unlucky scenario that lately occurred is the Lisfranc harm suffered by No. 2 general choose Chet Holmgren, who will miss the complete 2022-23 season. With that in thoughts, Presti doesn’t imagine that may hinder his long-term improvement. He views this important harm as one thing that doesn’t set him again developmentally, however extra tactically.
“So far as Chet, the factor we lose greater than something is tactically with the ability to see him and the way he interacts with the remainder of the fellows,” mentioned Presti on this week’s presser. “We can’t get that publicity. I can not sugarcoat that.”
This staff has an extended runway, and sooner or later down the highway issues will click on. The core is already beginning to type, and in a number of years every of those younger items will emerge as skilled gamers which can be coming into their very own.
“Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] is simply coming into his pre-prime years. Josh [Giddey], Chet [Holmgren] and a number of the different guys are nonetheless a number of years from attending to that time. However sooner or later these tenures are going to overlap,” Presti mentioned.
When that point comes, Oklahoma Metropolis will look to be ready to take the stage as a reliable contender. This can even be the time during which the Thunder can money in a few of their draft belongings to reinforce the roster through commerce.
It is probably not a season stuffed with wins upcoming for the Thunder, however the rebuild seems to be progressing in the best course.