The preseason is an interesting time for NBA storylines. Throughout camp and exhibition games, the excitement is always so high, but the action still seems far away. With a young and improving team, that hasn’t played in the postseason in two years, fans are craving basketball even more.
Oklahoma City’s preseason slate kicks off the first week of October, but it’s not too early to look a few weeks ahead. Mark Daigneault almost certainly won’t distribute playing time like he would during the regular season, especially considering the injuries that have piled up over the last two seasons. Different lineups and low-stake exhibition games could be two things Oklahoma City needs heading into a roster crunch.
When the Thunder take on the Dallas Mavericks to open the initial slate on Oct. 3, there will be players using preseason performances for roster positioning. These exhibition games will absolutely matter for anyone near the end of the bench, and with added accountability, these games now matter for second and third year guys vying for minutes. Here are a few storylines I’ll be following as things tip off:
I’m very interested in who comes off the bench for the Thunder this season. Between Kenrich Williams, Aaron Wiggins and Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City has three slashing wings that all probably deserve to play.
Depending on where rookie Ousmane Dieng fits best, he could be thrown into this category as well for the Thunder. With Williams being a talented lottery pick, he’s gonna get his chance. But the preseason is a great time for someone like Wiggins to remind the Thunder he still needs his minutes.
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Oklahoma City missed out on valuable chemistry development when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey each missed time down the stretch. Before the duo went down, it seemed like they were finally finding some chemistry.
Now, after an offseason of progression, the Thunder’s two stars will have added pressure to make it work. I’ll be following Gilgeous-Alexander’s off-ball progression, as well as the way that Giddey and SGA play off of each other within the offense.
Even though Chet Holmgren won’t be playing, the Thunder have some exciting young guns to be excited about. Jalen Williams could end up being one of the steal’s of the draft and seems to fit in perfectly with OKC’s core. Watching him share the floor with Gilgeous-Alexander during the preseason is something I’m excited to see.
Ousmane Dieng will also demand court time with his intrigue and potential. If he’s further along than projected it could be a fun season for Thunder fans. Oklahoma City also drafted Arkansas’s Jaylin Williams in the second round, and with Holmgren’s injury, the Thunder might need extra front court help.
The Thunder tip-off preseason on Monday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m. in Denver against the Nuggets.