The 2021-22 NBA season kicks off today, with the Oklahoma City Thunder playing their first game on Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz.
It will be a season in which winning isn't important, as it's all about player development.
With that in mind, how many games will the Thunder win?
As of now, they're projected to win somewhere between 23 and 24 this season.
Does the InsideTheThunder.com staff think they'll win more or less than that projection?
Oklahoma City may very well have the worst roster top to bottom in the league, but with a projected win total of 22.5 win, I’ll still pick them to overachieve.
With a roster centered around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort and an Uber-efficient rookie, Oklahoma City is bound to snag some wins here and there. I think Oklahoma City finishes with 31-51 record, grabbing another top draft pick.
My prediction is that OKC goes 22-60. The Thunder probably have the worst roster in the league and they aren’t trying to win games. Even if healthy, expect plenty of guys to be rested on back-to-backs and the organization to take things easy.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be excellent, but he can’t do it alone, and the rest of the team is simply too young to help.
If the projected win total is 23.5 games, I am taking the over. This isn't because the Thunder are going to be good, but rather because Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has the ability to carry a team to wins.
Last season, OKC went 16-19 with him in the lineup. While I don't expect them to win at that rate this season, he'll certainly be able to help them win roughly 25 games. If I had to pick a record, it would be 25-57.
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While the record of the Thunder this season is more important relative to draft lottery odds, it will still be interesting to monitor.
Before the season starts, the InsideTheThunder.com team also gives their hot takes for Oklahoma City.
Not quite sure if this is a hot take or not, but I think Josh Giddey will finished with more than 5 triple-doubles in his rookie season. This is of course dependent on how much time he plays, but if preseason was any indication, he’ll be getting a solid workload.
With his length, motor and innate passing ability, Giddey could very well be the Thunder’s next triple-double machine.
Isaiah Roby will be OKC’s MIP. There will be plenty of opportunity at center this year, and Isaiah Roby flashed some nice stuff during the preseason.
He’s an athletic mismatch for most center’s due to his speed, but he’s shown a better understanding of how to defend even though he’s undersized. If the Thunder treat Favors’ schedule similarly to Al Horford’s last year, Roby should have plenty of opportunity to impress both off the bench and from the starting lineup.
It sounds crazy, but I think Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's production will be relatively flat this season relative to last. That's by no means a slight to the rising star, it's more a compliment to how well he played last season.
Averaging nearly 24 points, six assists and five rebounds per game on 50/40/80 splits is insanity. If he's able to put up those numbers once again and stay healthy for a whole season, it will be considered a successful one. However, it's going to be so hard to put up better stats than that, especially on that efficiency. Either way, that would still be considered a step forward for the face of the franchise, as those numbers are extremely impressive.
With that in mind, Gilgeous-Alexander has gotten exponentially better with each season, so he'll likely prove me wrong.
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