Despite the addition of premium draft talent to the Thunder roster, winning won’t come nearly as easy for the young squad.
The Western Conference has re-stated itself as the top conference in basketball.
In the past two seasons, general manager Sam Presti has done a fine job of positioning himself just right in order to land premier draft picks: No. 6 in the 2021 Draft and No. 2 in 2022.
But with three added lottery picks and a crop of veterans and competitive up-and-comers that aren’t likely to want to sit this season, it looked as if Oklahoma City might actually fare better than year’s past in the 2022-23 season.
But the Western Conference, who took a slight break last season due to an uproar of Eastern talent, looks to be back.
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Outside of San Antonio, who offloaded Dejounte Murray and seem to be headed for a rebuild of their own, most Western Conference teams seem prepared to go for gold this season.
The Warriors, Suns, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Timberwolves with their newly acquired All-Star Rudy Gobert, Pelicans, Clippers, Lakers and even the Kings are preparing themselves for a winning season.
The Jazz and Blazers could likely join those as well by retooling around their respective star guards Donovan Mitchell and Damian Lillard.
For all we know, the Thunder could be a surprise player next season. With star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and a slew of new prospects, they could make waves.
Even with second overall selection Chet Holmgren alone, the Thunder will be more talented than last season, but the grueling Western Conference could do Presti’s work for him.
Oklahoma City will now need to cut a few more players in order to get to the regulation 15-man roster for the regular season.