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Three Thunder Players Most Likely to Crack the Starting Lineup

Starting spots could be up for grabs in the upcoming Thunder season, and there's several candidates who could make a run at the position

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been the revolving door of lineups for the past few years.

With injuries and the lean into development, OKC has seen a wide variety lineups that feature length, small-ball and everything in between.

Despite the roster’s interchangeable nature, there have been some mainstays in the starting five.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, the franchises cornerstone and main building block, for obvious reasons. Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley, as clearly defined role players on what OKC hoped was an upwards trajectory.

But with three new rookies and a blossoming sophomore class, spots will be up for grabs, even for established players.

Not counting the center vacancy, here’s three Thunder players who could make a run at the starting lineup this season:

Jalen Williams, Forward

Jalen Williams

Several good traits jam packed into a nice frame, Williams is certainly a day-one contributor, and could see the starting lineup by year’s end.

He’s versatile offensively, being able to spot up, cut and even function as a primary or secondary playmaker.

Defensively, he’s got a 7-foot wingspan that makes him positionally versatile, as we saw against No. 3 overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. in Summer League.

Williams could snuggle his way in between Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey as a trio in the starting lineup.

Tre Mann, Guard

Tre Mann, NBA Summer League
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While many think of Mann as the likely sixth man for the Thunder rebuild, we shouldn’t be so hasty.

Mann still has plenty of time to blossom into a legitimate scoring threat, and while the Giddey does make up half of the backcourt, he’d be an easy fill-in defensively at forward at 6-foot-8.

Giddey, Dort, Bazley and that day’s center option don’t give Gilgeous-Alexander much offensive relief, and the exploratory head coach Mark Daigneault could look to Mann for that job.

Aleksej Pokusevki, Forward

Aleksej Pokusevski

At this point, I’ve probably lost you, but stay with me.

Pokusevki is just a few tweaks away from being a genuine contributor, and even potential wing starter on this Thunder squad.

The Serbian needed three major components to reach his potential this season: a better frame, a more consistent shooting stroke, and capable defense.

Pokusevski is up a full 20-pounds from last season, OKC hired Chip Engelland to help with the shooting woes and the 20-year-old was already one of the team’s better weak side defenders last season.

Bingo Bango Bongo!

Of course it won’t be that simple, but there’s a legitimate avenue towards Pokusevski weaving his way into the starters section. With consistency across the board, Pokusevski’s lengthy frame and perimeter skillset could be a real aid.

With some defense and added offensive play, Pokusevski wouldn’t be far behind Bazley, whose held a starting role. And could even help Bazley continue workshopping some of those primary playmaking skills on the team’s second unit.


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