NBA Season Preview: Thunder

Card Ladder
Oct 27, 20213 min read

Draft Picks, Draft Picks, and more Draft Picks. This Thunder team has no expectations, like literally none so it shouldn't come as a surprise when you see them off to an 0-4 start. On the flip side this is not a veteran farewell tour hostage situation so the young guys have been getting all the minutes. Despite being a really bad team, you would be lying to say they don't have talented players with potential. This blog will not be focused so much as on their season as their long term future as that's the reality of this franchise.

Key Players:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander:

The dynamic and all around point guard will be in for a rough few years as the Thunder try and rebuild over the next few years. Alexander’s length at guard makes him a nightmare matchup for opponents, while his assist numbers are lacking it can be attributed to lackluster teammates. His work ethic is like no other as in his second season his points per game increased by 9. His jump from year 2 to 3 was also noticeable with a 4 point jump. From year 1 to 3, he attempted 8 more shots per game but also increased his field goal percentage by 3%. An increase in volume like that for inefficient players often correlates with a drop off in field goal %, i.e. Devonte Graham. His player efficiency rating is elite over 21 which for reference, 15 is league average and Doncic is 25. As mentioned prior, although his assists per game are lacking, the lack of talent can be attributed to this as he makes up 31% of the team's assists.

Looking at his card market, it is up high this quarter but down as of late. As the Thunder continue to slide and be seen as a bottom 5 team in the league expect Shai’s prices to continue to dip. Shai is a great player but he is not good enough to carry a team like Luka, which in part makes Luka so special and should NOT be a knock on Shai. Thunder’s rebuild process is going to take years, this is not a 1-2 season thing like the Warriors. As you can see his Prizm cards over the last month have tanked for the most part which can be expected to continue.

Darius Bazley:

A sports card meme icon, Bazley was unironically a top prospect in high school until skipping college taking a New Balance sponsorship. Bazley is an extremely raw talent who shows flashes of brilliance but also shows flashes of WTF! Moments. At 6’8” he is the perfect height with extreme athleticism, unfortunately his jump shot is like the lottery. There's a chance you could win but you're likely going to lose, aka he is missing his jump shots.

Looking at his card market, things are tanking across the board. While he is still just 21 years old, it is clear people are starting to give up on him. There has been relatively no development from year 1 to 3 and those are the key development years.

Dort and  Giddey

The three biggest question marks on the Thunder team are these three players. All so raw and talented, it is only a question of if they can take the next step and possibly be a part of the team's long term future. Dort has established himself as a lockdown defender whose shooting and all around offense is shaky at times. Josh Giddey is the Thunders top pick this year who is full of energy and loves to hustle. At 6’8” he has a great overall feel for the game and ability to handle the ball which is rare for a player his size. Although it has only been 4 games, consistency shooting the ball could grow to be concerning.