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The days of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden taking the Oklahoma City Thunder deep into the playoffs are long gone, as a new era of Thunder basketball has begun to take form.

Winning 22 games last season and just 24 games this season is not impressive whatsoever, but there is a lot to like about this young Thunder team, especially given the high-level youth they have in their core.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Josh Giddey, Darius Bazley and others have emerged over the years to show their full potential and if they can stay healthy, the Thunder have a chance to surprise a lot of people heading into the 2022-23 season.

This front-office has done an excellent job of assembling future assets through the next several years and compared to the rest of the NBA, the Thunder may be set up for the most long-term success given that their stars are so young.

The future is definitely bright for Oklahoma City, but this offseason will be vital for them in terms of decision making.

Between the NBA Draft and potential trades to be made, the Thunder have options, all of which could drastically change the future of this franchise.

Let’s take a look at some key questions the Thunder will need to address this upcoming offseason.

What Does Sam Presti Have Planned Long-Term?

Thunder general manager Sam Presti always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else in the NBA and is already thinking about the 2025-26 season while the 2021-22 season just concluded.

What is this guy up to and what should we expect the Thunder’s front-office to do long-term?

Well, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is locked up long-term and Josh Giddey is looking like an All-Star-level talent after just one season. Not to mention, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley, Tre Mann and Aleksej Pokusevski are all young talents that have shown flashes of their full potential.

The Thunder have a young core in place and now, Presti can begin focusing on “phase two” of his master plan – adding a proven All-Star-level talent to his roster.

Who this All-Star will be is another key question, but within the next year or two, the Thunder are going to be making a huge trade that nobody saw coming, much like they did with the Indiana Pacers back in 2017 when they traded for Paul George.

Owning a total of 35 draft picks through 2028, something is going on in this front-office that we are not seeing.

Oklahoma City has a plan of who they want to add and whether it is in the offseason or at the trade deadline next year, Sam Presti is going to finally show his cards and create the next best dynasty in the NBA.

Keep an eye on the situations of Zion Williamson, Julius Randle and Ben Simmons as potential All-Star trade candidates in connection with the Thunder.

Will Derrick Favors be with the Thunder Next Season?

Traded from the Utah Jazz to the Oklahoma City Thunder last offseason, Derrick Favors played a total of 39 games with the Thunder this season.

At 30-years-old, Favors is going to be entering the offseason having a $10.1 million player option that he will most likely be opting into.

Should the veteran opt into his player option for next season, it is highly likely that the Thunder will look to trade him in the offseason.

He does not fit the long-term plan of the Oklahoma City Thunder and while they have some big needs in their frontcourt, Isaiah Roby played well at the end of the year and Mike Muscala will still be under contract, that is if the Thunder opt into his team option.

Not to mention, the Thunder could wind up with one of the first few picks in the NBA Draft, giving them the ability to draft their center of the future right away to replace Derrick Favors.

Whether it is in the offseason or at the trade deadline next year, we should fully expect Derrick Favors to be on the move in the near future.

Can Shai Gilgeous-Alexander be the “All-Star” Leader of this Team?

The NBA is loaded with talented, All-Star-like players that are under the age of 24 right now and the Thunder have one of those talents in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Set to turn 24 in July, Gilgeous-Alexander emerged as a multi-dimensional talent last season for the Thunder and this year, he continued to find ways to elevate his play.

In 56 games during the 2021-22 season, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 24.5 points (12th in NBA), 5.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and shot 45.3% from the floor.

They may have been a bad team record-wise, but the Thunder were a very competitive team this season and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was one of the best overall offensive players in the league. His ability to score and facilitate for his teammates is unmatched right now, which is why the 2022-23 season has a chance to be his best yet.

Making the All-Star Game will be one of SGA’s main goals entering next season, but the question of whether or not he can be the leader of this team is still yet to be answered.

In two seasons having Gilgeous-Alexander as the focal point of the team, the Thunder have gone 46-108.

He is no doubt a terrific talent, but it does seem like Oklahoma City needs another proven All-Star to lead them in order for this team to truly take the next step in their rebuilding process. 

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