Evaluating the 2021-22 Oklahoma City Thunder

June 3rd, 2022

By Alan Lu

The 2021-22 Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t win many games this year, but they have three very talented players in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, and Josh Giddey that should really excite their fan base about the future of their franchise.
(Photo:
Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a young, rebuilding team that were surprisingly competitive last season early on, as they had a veteran center Al Horford to the mix of talented young players that included Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort.  They sat Horford midway through last year, and they later traded him in the offseason. 

They did add the sixth overall pick in selecting Australian point forward Josh Giddey in the draft, but the Thunder were likely regarded as an inexperienced team that would be one of the worst teams in the NBA this year.  I’d say they pretty much met those expectations this season.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander turned in another very good season, but he missed some time due to injury.  Josh Giddey was a bright spot on the team, and he was a triple double threat that especially impressed with his playmaking, rebounding, and feel for the game.  Lu Dort continued to provide his trademark, stout defense.  Other young players were able to get playing time.  The Thunder were near the bottom of the standings, but they were competitive for a handful of games, and they have a solid trio of core players in Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey, and Dort that could give Thunder fans hope for the future.

Key Players:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played very well for the Thunder this year, but he played in just 56 games due to missing some time due to injury.
(Photo:
Mike Stobe/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Thunderous Intentions)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
2021-22 (OKC): 24.5 PPG, 5.9 APG, 5.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 45 FG%, 30 3PT%, 81 FT%,56 TS%, 20.9 PER, 4.6 WS

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a very athletic combo guard that has played very well for the Thunder.  He thrives as a scorer, facilitator, and player on both ends of the court.  He will need to improve his jump shot, and he missed some time due to injury, but Gilgeous-Alexander has consistently been the Thunder’s best player over the past two seasons, and he is a rising star in the NBA.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 3 stars (4 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Starting shooting guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder

Lu Dort has consistently been the Thunder’s best defender over the past several seasons.
(Photo:
David Butler II/USA Today Sports, via Fansided’s Thunderous Intentions)

Lu Dort
2021-22 (OKC): 17.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.7 APG, 40 FG%, 33 3PT%, 84 FT%, 54 TS%, 12.3 PER, 1.4 WS

Lu Dort is an athletic, physical swingman that is one of the best defenders in the NBA.  He can guard a variety of positions, and he is a very good on-ball defender that could lock down some of the very best players in this league.  He’s been a little over-extended in his role on offense, and he will need to improve his shooting and playmaking skills.  In terms of his defense, he may be one of the most underrated defenders in all of the NBA right now.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Starting small forward of the Oklahoma City Thunder

Other Notable Players:

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Australian rookie point forward, Josh Giddey had a very good rookie year, and he averaged 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game during the 2021-22 NBA season.
(Photo:
Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman)

Josh Giddey

He is a smart, skilled point forward that turned in an impressive rookie season with the Thunder.  He was a triple-double threat that showed off strong playmaking and rebounding skills, and he was able to contribute right away as a starter for their team.  He will need to improve his jump shot and defense, but he is a talented player that has shown a very good feel for the game, and he immediately gives the Thunder another key core player for them to help them in the future.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (3.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Starting point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

He is a versatile, skilled big man that showed off versatile scoring skills, and Robinson-Earl turned in a strong rookie season this year.  He was able to step in right away to contribute, and he was one of the most underrated rookies this year due to his solid all-around play for the Thunder.

2022 Season Grade: A
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Darius Bazley

He is an athletic, skilled combo forward that has gotten ample playing time with the Thunder.  He’s flashed all-around skills, but he’s also been inconsistent in games.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter and defender, but he definitely has the upside to be a solid role player in the NBA.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Aleksej Pokusevski

He is a very tall, athletic point forward that has been a project player for the Thunder.  He’s shown some very promising skills, and he is a tall playmaker that plays like a point forward.  He’s shown a good feel for distributing the basketball, and he also can block shots defensively, but he will need to improve in the other areas, such as shooting, defense, and he will definitely need to add more muscle to his frame.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (3 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Isaiah Roby

He is an energetic, combo forward that has excelled as a hustle player for the Thunder off the bench.  He mostly contributes as a defensive specialist for them.  While he may be fairly limited offensively, his energy and defense has allowed him to be a rotation player for the Thunder in the past two seasons.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Tre Mann

He is an athletic, combo guard that received ample playing time during his rookie season with the Thunder in the NBA.  He shot the three-ball fairly well, but he will need to improve in the other facets of the game.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Vit Krejci

He is an athletic swingman that played fairly well as a rookie this past season with the Thunder.  He showed off some playmaking skills, and he is an aggressive slasher that competently held his own this year.  On the other hand, he will need to improve his shooting and defense in order to continue to progress and hone his game.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Kenrich Williams

He is a 3 and D role player that played for the Thunder this past season.  His shooting numbers were considerably down, but he showed off solid playmaking and rebounding skills to help them off the bench.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Derrick Favors

He is a rim protector that received some early playing time before missing the rest of the year due to a back injury.  He wasn’t nearly as effective as he had been for the Utah Jazz, as his shooting percentages and shot blocking numbers were down considerably compared to last year.

2022 Season Grade: D+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Mike Muscala

He is a floor spacing big man that played well as a shooter and defender in very limited minutes for the Thunder this past season.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on an NBA team
Side Note: Has a team option that he can pick up for next season.

Other Players on the Roster:

Ty Jerome

He is a skilled combo guard that has shown that he can run the point, but he really struggled with his jump shot this year.

2022 Season Grade: D
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Theo Maledon

He is a skilled combo guard that has shown that he can run the point, but he really struggled with his jump shot this year, and he also had trouble being a consistent player in the G-League as well.

2022 Season Grade: D-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Lindy Waters III (Two-Way Player)

He is a two-way player that shot the ball well off the bench in limited minutes this year, and he is a skilled swingman that could be a shooting specialist for the Thunder next season.

2022 Season Grade: A-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on the Oklahoma City Thunder

Melvin Frazier (Two-Way Player)

He is an athletic swingman that played fairly well in the G-League, and he defended very well at that level.  He also received some playing time for the Thunder late in the season.  He hasn’t shot the ball well at all in the NBA, but he earned enough trust to get a lot of playing time very late in the year.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on an NBA team

Head Coach:
Mark Daigneault
2021-22 (OKC): 24-58, 14th in the Western Conference

The Thunder were expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA this past year as they also had a very inexperienced, young roster, and they certainly seemed to meet those expectations.   On the plus side, he did a good job of developing young players this year, and Josh Giddey and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl turned in strong rookie seasons.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Projected 2022-23 Rotation:

2nd Overall Pick
F Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
F Lu Dort
G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
G Josh Giddey
___________

12th Overall Pick
Darius Bazley
Aaron Wiggins
Tre Mann
Aleksej Pokusevski

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Picks in the 2022 NBA Draft:
#2, #12, #30, #34

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Projected 2023 Win-Loss Record:
25-57, 13th in the Western Conference

Their Projected Offseason Plan:

The Oklahoma City Thunder are projected to be capped out in the offseason, so unless they wheel and deal on draft day and make a lot of trades then, they are not expected to make any major moves after the 2022 NBA Draft.   Still, the draft will be their utmost priority.

They will need to add a talented young player that could fit into the core that consists of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, and Josh Giddey.  The Thunder are a defensive-minded team that has shown that they can get stops on that side of the ball, and they will need to decide if they will strengthen their strengths to become an elite defensive team, or to improve their weaknesses and focus on getting more shooters, scorers, and playmakers in the offseason.  The Thunder will be picking second in this year’s draft, and they will be able to add a very good player to their team on draft day.

While the Thunder will likely have another rebuilding season, they have a good core in place as they have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, and Josh Giddey, and they will also add two lottery picks, one of whom will be the second overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft. It will take some time for them to start racking up wins, but they have been accumulating talented, young players, which could enable their franchise to have a very bright future.

This was written before the start of the 2022 NBA Draft and free agency. I went to No Trade Clause and Basketball-Reference for research purposes. Thanks for reading.

NBA Scouting Live
error: Content is protected !!