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OKC Thunder: What Would it Take to Make Play-In?

How many games would the Thunder need to win for a shot at the play-in tournament?
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The Oklahoma City Thunder have now spent the last two seasons in the lottery. During the upcoming season, it’s likely they will once again be near the bottom of the standings.

With that in mind, the NBA’s new play-in tournament gives teams a chance to make the playoffs even if outside of the top-eight in their respective conference. This format has been extremely successful and something that has made the end of the last few seasons even more exciting.

If the Thunder have a good year and the pieces start to come together, it’s not impossible that they end up being the ninth or tenth seed. In the Western Conference, there’s a real chance that the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz are worse than the Thunder this season.

Recent history tells us that a team needs about 36 wins on average to earn the tenth seed in the Western Conference.

  • 2022: San Antonio Spurs (34-48)
  • 2021: San Antonio Spurs (33-39)
  • 2020: Phoenix Suns (34-39)
  • 2019: Los Angeles Lakers (37-45)
  • 2018: LA Clippers (42-40)
  • 2017: New Orleans Pelicans (34-48)
  • 2016: Sacramento Kings (33-49)
  • 2015:Phoenix Suns (39-43)
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For reference, the Thunder won 22 and 24 games in each of the last two seasons respectively. This season, they’re not projected to win many more.

Does it make sense for Oklahoma City to push for the playoffs? That depends on how the season starts. Playing games of consequence is key for development, but so is building the roster with elite talent.

In a loaded 2023 NBA Draft, the Thunder could get the final piece of their young core. It’s all about patience in a rebuild.

Regardless, we can use a 36 win benchmark to gauge where Oklahoma City is throughout the season.


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