• The Thunder got want they wanted from the 2022 NBA draft, as they left with Chet Holmgren as the No. 2 pick — a player they would have likely drafted at No. 1 if they had been given the privilege. They also left the draft with Ousmane Dieng, who was acquired in a trade at the No. 11 spot, alongside Jalen Williams at pick 12 and Jaylin Williams at pick 34.

    There was significant chatter about the Thunder’s tanking at the end of last season and many expected a similar showing in 2022-2023, especially with star rookie Holmgren acquiring a season-ending injury before he even stepped onto an NBA court. However, as the youngest team in the NBA with an average age of 23.14 years old at the beginning of the season, the Thunder were about to make some surprising strides forward.

    How’d It Go?

    The Thunder improved from a 24-58 record (.293) last season to 40-42 (.488) in the 2022-2023 campaign. This was due to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s leap from borderline All-Star to All-NBA and borderline-MVP candidate. Along with SGA, Jalen Williams was lively in the second half of his rookie season, while other young players such as Josh Giddey and Isaiah Joe showed their own improvements. Instead of the presumed tank many had expected, the Thunder found themselves pushing for a Play-In spot and they eventually succeeded in securing the No. 10 seed.

    The journey into the playoffs from that position was always going to be difficult, but the fairytale continued on as they triumphed in a 123-118 win against the No. 9 Pelicans, backed by big games from SGA, Giddey and Lu Dort. They would then have to pull off the magic one more time against the Wolves, but alas, that is where the dream ended with a resounding 95-120 loss to miss out on the final playoff spot.

    The Thunder now hold a late lottery pick, which remained at the No. 12 spot after they lost a tiebreaker with the Chicago Bulls for a shot at selecting one spot higher (whose No. 11 pick is going to the Magic) and the lottery results offered no surprises. Disappointing as that may be, Jalen Williams, or JDub as he is referred to, was the No. 12 pick himself and finished second in Rookie of the Year considerations. The boatload of draft stock which OKC possesses could also allow them to trade up if there is a prospect they really want to get their hands on, so, we will have to wait and see how they approach the upcoming 2023 draft.


    Mark Daigneault finished second in NBA Coach of the Year voting for the 2022-2023 season in recognition of the strides the young Thunder team made under his care. Daigneault has been spoken very highly of since his hire, being complimented on his ability to establish good relationships by empowering players and ensuring they feel involved in the team environment. He has also been described as adaptable, open-minded and unconventional. In interviews, he speaks eloquently, giving a pervading aura of calmness and control through introspective thought. This all culminates into a coach who is both loved and respected by his franchise — players, staff and front office alike.

    All of that praise makes Daigneault seem like a battle-tested veteran, but he is only three years into his first tenure as an NBA head coach. He was hired in November of 2020 after being an assistant coach for OKC in the 2019-2020 season. Prior to that, Daigneault had a successful five-year tenure with the Thunder’s G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue.  Despite all of this, he is only around 38 years old (there are inconsistencies by a few months in his precise birth date online), the same age as LeBron James who continues to play at a high level in the NBA.

    Daigneault’s Thunder excel on the defensive end, as they were even a top-10 defense in the 2021-2022 season prior to the All-Star break. Daigneault’s knack for in-game tweaks also allowed the Thunder to be one of the best third-quarter teams in 2022-2023 with the time to discuss and adjust during halftime break. OKC were fourth in the NBA for steals and took care of the ball as they conceded the second-least opponent points off turnovers and fast-break chances. The addition of Chet Holmgren’s rim protection next season should help to raise the team’s ceiling as a defensive unit and they will likely be looking to acquire another forward in the draft who can provide switchable defense and also aid in defending the paint. If all goes well, the Thunder may be set to take another leap next year with a more secure route into the Western Conference playoffs under Daigneault’s guidance.

    The Players

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 68 68 35.5 10.4 20.3 51.0 9.8 10.9 90.5 0.9 2.5 34.5 31.4 4.8 5.5 1.6 1.0 2.8
    21-22 OKC 56 56 34.7 8.5 18.8 45.3 5.9 7.2 81.0 1.6 5.3 30.0 24.5 5.0 5.9 1.3 0.8 2.8
    20-21 OKC 35 35 33.7 8.2 16.1 50.8 5.3 6.5 80.8 2.0 4.9 41.8 23.7 4.7 5.9 0.8 0.7 3.0

    ADP: 44/49 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 3/2 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 3/3 (8/9-cat)

    Gilgeous-Alexander was a finalist for Most Improved Player, which says a lot about his leap given that he was already a borderline All-Star. In the preseason, SGA was thought to have an injury which would keep him out for a few weeks, but that was cleared up a few days before the first game of the year. However, SGA’s ADP never caught up to that update (or managers never believed he’d play the full year given OKC’s recent history), as he would have likely been a late-second or early-third rounder in fantasy drafts if he was known to be healthy. Even in that case, he would have still been an inarguable draft-day steal by all accounts.

    SGA saw jumps in his field-goal and free-throw attempts, to go with increased efficiency on both fronts as well. On the other hand, he attempted and converted the fewest 3-pointers of his career, apart from his rookie season. He fully leaned into his skills as a paint penetrator and the results of this season showed that it was the right choice. Additionally, SGA is a solid contributor for dimes and steals, while being an elite shot blocker and a better-than-average rebounder for a guard.

    That all-around value is the mark of an early-first-round producer and even if SGA has some room to falter, he also has room to grow further if he can start hitting 3-pointers more consistently. The 2023-2024 season should offer more intrigue as SGA continues to work his way towards being a more complete player, but even if there is a slight drop-off, he looks like he should be able to maintain a first-round floor.

    Jalen Williams
    SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 75 62 30.3 5.5 10.6 52.1 2.1 2.5 81.2 1.0 2.7 35.6 14.1 4.5 3.3 1.4 0.5 1.6

    ADP: 140/143 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 53/47 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 73/73 (8/9-cat)

    Williams finished second in the race for Rookie of the Year. He was an older prospect as a 21-year-old when he was selected. Interestingly, he climbed significantly during the pre-draft process and eventually became a lottery pick as the No. 12 selection by the Thunder. In the fantasy world, he was a late-round flier as Williams was expected to be an “NBA-ready” prospect due to his age and build, though the jump in competition coming out of Santa Clara was significant. On the surface, he obliterated his ADP easily, but the story of his season provides better context.

    Williams appeared in 75 games, starting 62 along the way. In the first half of the season, he was far from being a must-roster 12-teamer, but the flashes of value were there. When Aleksej Pokusevski got injured in December, Williams finally got a more consistent role and he began to grow in confidence and consistency as a result. By that point, he would have been on waiver wires in most shallower redraft formats and likely became a league-winning pickup in some cases while being a big boost for those lower in the standings.

    Unlike the average rookie, Williams possessed strong shooting splits and manageable turnovers while he was also an elite source of steals. Over the course of the final months, he was an early-round 9-cat producer with second-to-third-round value and no glaring statistical weaknesses for a wing-forward hybrid. The only part of his game which was lacking was shot blocking, which is obviously forgivable.

    Looking forward, steals can be volatile and the Thunder still have to add Chet Holmgren as well as another lottery prospect to the mix. So, Williams could find himself having less to do next season. Given the heights he reached at the end this year though, making the ROY conversation into an actual debate, any type of fall off from Williams should still leave the potential for mid-round value in the 2023-2024 campaign.

    Josh Giddey
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 76 76 31.1 7.1 14.7 48.2 1.4 1.9 73.1 1.0 3.1 32.5 16.6 7.9 6.2 0.8 0.4 2.8
    21-22 OKC 54 54 31.5 5.2 12.4 41.9 1.0 1.5 70.9 1.0 3.9 26.3 12.5 7.8 6.4 0.9 0.4 3.2

    ADP: 65/58 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 51/79 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 72/114 (8/9-cat)

    Giddey was a mid-round draftee in fantasy leagues and he was generally a fine pick for 8-cat formats. He took strides forward in terms of percentages, with a significant FG% increase alongside a minor FT% uptick and an improvement from a subpar 3-point shooter to a more streaky but passable 32.5% from distance. From various reports, Giddey has been tirelessly working on improving his shooting, so his second-year progression should theoretically continue into next season. He also still needs to manage his two-plus turnovers per game better, which is why he is much better in 8-cat scenarios. The ADP in 9-cat leagues was always far too aggressive, but make no mistake — Giddey made a massive leap up the rankings even accounting for his turnovers, driven largely by his improved efficiency.

    In terms of strengths, Giddey’s size and passing ability make him a comfortable triple-threat in points, rebounds and assists, which is likely the value most fantasy managers were seeking from him. During the season, he also had brief stretches of early-round value thanks to some hot shooting runs. While the shooting remains inconsistent, we can hope that was a sneak peek at what he could do if he grows more in that area.

    His performance in the initial Play-In victory over the Pelicans with 31 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists, three 3-pointers and one block on positive shooting splits also bodes well for his future as a big-game player. Although, that was unfortunately followed up by a much lesser performance in the subsequent Play-In loss vs. the Wolves. As said before though, Giddey still has time to improve and the promise he has shown in his second year cannot be understated. Head coach Mark Daigneault has praised his maturity, citing a key battle for a defensive rebound to seal a regular-season win as one of his favorite plays from Giddey this season.

    Luguentz Dort
    SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 74 73 30.7 4.6 11.8 38.8 2.7 3.5 77.2 1.8 5.5 33.0 13.7 4.6 2.1 1.0 0.3 1.2
    21-22 OKC 51 51 32.6 5.7 14.2 40.4 3.2 3.7 84.3 2.5 7.7 33.2 17.2 4.2 1.7 0.9 0.4 1.7
    20-21 OKC 52 52 29.7 4.8 12.3 38.7 2.3 3.2 74.4 2.2 6.3 34.3 14.0 3.6 1.7 0.9 0.4 1.5

    ADP: 135/141 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 141/139 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 175/175 (8/9-cat)

    Dort is deservedly well-known for his defensive acumen, but unfortunately that does not typically translate to the fantasy landscape in the same way. He was first recognized as the “Harden Stopper” when he burst on the scene a few years ago and his notoriety likely pushes him to be a late-round flier in 12-team drafts. He has never averaged more than 1.0 steals or 0.4 blocks a game in any season, while being a streaky scorer with inconsistent shooting and limited ability as a passer. He is one of those players whose real-life impact far exceeds their fantasy abilities, as one of the better on-ball, point-of-attack defenders in the league.

    Generally, any late-round flier isn’t necessarily harmful as they are very replaceable draft selections, but astute managers would likely be looking for bigger, high-upside swings in the area of his ADP for 12-team leagues. Dort is a fine option for deep leagues though, as he takes a large enough volume of 3-pointers to produce in that category, while the basic scoring numbers can also be useful if the efficiency does not hurt your roster.

    His defense should be enough to maintain high-level minutes while the roster adds more talent and Dort has also shown a penchant for exceeding expectations offensively in big games, as he did during the two Play-In games this season (27 points, four 3-pointers and 17 points, four 3-pointers), as well as in the 2020 playoffs with 30 points against the Rockets in a 102-104 Game 7 loss.

    Aleksej Pokusevski
    PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 34 25 20.6 3.2 7.3 43.4 0.6 1.0 62.9 1.1 3.1 36.5 8.1 4.7 1.9 0.6 1.3 1.3
    21-22 OKC 62 12 19.9 3.0 7.4 40.8 0.6 0.8 70.0 0.9 3.2 28.9 7.5 5.1 2.1 0.6 0.6 1.5
    20-21 OKC 44 27 23.8 2.9 8.8 33.2 0.6 0.9 73.7 1.2 4.5 26.3 7.7 4.6 2.2 0.5 1.0 2.1

    ADP: 140/140 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 294/297 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 176/180 (8/9-cat)

    Pokusevski got a fair shot at an increased role earlier in the season, starting 25 of his 34 appearances overall. Whenever Poku got 22-plus minutes, he was effectively a solid 12-team league streamer as someone who could provide over two combined defensive stats, more than one 3PM a game and around five boards as well. Unfortunately, a non-displaced tibial plateau fracture in his left leg at the end of December essentially halted the rest of his season. While Poku was theoretically available to play during the final few weeks of the regular season, he barely got on the court and was held out of both Play-In clashes.

    Whether this was due to genuine concerns over his fitness, or the team having an established rotation with momentum when he returned, Poku will also have fewer opportunities next season with Chet Holmgren’s debut campaign and further additions. It already seemed like this was his chance to secure a major role after a few years of development, and Jalen Williams promptly stole his theoretical job. Poku does have an intriguing fantasy profile though and he was certainly a worthy late-round flier as someone who was producing top-100 value at times earlier in the season.

    Kenrich Williams
    PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 53 10 22.8 3.4 6.5 51.7 0.3 0.7 43.6 0.9 2.5 37.3 8.0 4.9 2.0 0.8 0.3 0.6
    21-22 OKC 49 21.9 3.0 6.5 46.1 0.6 1.1 54.5 0.8 2.5 33.9 7.4 4.5 2.2 0.9 0.2 0.9
    20-21 OKC 66 13 21.6 3.3 6.2 53.3 0.5 1.0 57.1 0.8 1.8 44.4 8.0 4.1 2.3 0.8 0.3 1.2

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 233/211 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 203/170 (8/9-cat)

    OKC’s fantasy outlook as a team falls off a cliff from this point. Another member of the Williams brigade, Kenrich had stretches as a 12-team streamer when he was the team’s small-ball big before going down for the season. From a broader perspective, he was fine as a deep-league player for 16- to 18-team leagues.

    In the 10 games Williams started this season, he turned 25 minutes into eight points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and almost one 3-pointer a game. Those numbers don’t stand out, but it was still enough to be a relevant fantasy asset, which is generally what we should expect from him when he gets significant playing time. He is unlikely to be as involved next season though, so his fantasy value will, at best, likely be capped for deeper leagues in a backup role.

    Isaiah Joe
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 73 9 19.1 3.1 7.0 44.1 1.1 1.4 82.0 2.2 5.4 40.9 9.5 2.4 1.2 0.7 0.1 0.5
    21-22 PHI 54 1 10.7 1.1 3.1 35.7 0.5 0.5 93.1 0.8 2.4 33.6 3.5 1.0 0.6 0.2 0.1 0.3
    20-21 PHI 40 1 8.8 1.1 3.0 36.4 0.3 0.5 72.2 0.9 2.4 36.5 3.4 0.8 0.5 0.3 0.1 0.3

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 184/164 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 241/211 (8/9-cat)

    Joe was always recognized as a 3-point sniper, but he never got consistent playing time when he was rostered by the Sixers. This season with the Thunder has allowed him to finally be unleashed in a more concrete role and he did not disappoint, converting 2.2 threes a game at a rate of 40.9% on the year. He had nine games with 20-plus points this season, including a career-high 33 points on March 2 against the Hornets. He also hit a career-best seven 3-pointers in three separate games this season, so by all measures, this was a bit of a breakout campaign for the 23-year-old guard.

    For fantasy leagues, it is clear that Joe was an elite 3-point streamer for even the shallowest of formats. His value as a streamer was also accentuated in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s absences, as Joe’s averages increased to 15 PPG and 2.8 3PM in those contests. His aptitude as a shooter should allow him to continue earning consistent rotation minutes, although he is unlikely to earn a starting role. A season like this one can therefore be within the realms of replication, as Joe should continue to produce archetypal 3-point specialist lines.

    Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 43 20 18.9 2.6 5.8 44.4 0.8 1.0 83.3 0.9 2.6 33.3 6.8 4.2 1.0 0.6 0.3 0.4
    21-22 OKC 49 36 22.2 2.7 6.6 41.4 0.8 1.1 74.1 1.2 3.4 35.2 7.5 5.6 1.0 0.6 0.3 0.8

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 306/289 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 278/247 (8/9-cat)

    Robinson-Earl was important to the Thunder in the early parts of the season, as he had a variable role which sometimes saw him as a starter and sometimes saw him as a backup as part of the OKC roulette. While he was producing 12-team-worthy numbers as a streamer when he played starter’s minutes, the inconsistency of his role made it difficult to play him consistently in shallow fantasy formats.

    Unfortunately for JRE, injury coupled with the emergence of Jaylin Williams and the acquisition of Dario Saric limited his role in the latter portion of the season. The 22-year-old JRE shot 39.7% from three as a starter though, which would be useful for a frontcourt player if he can continue to do that consistently, but his season average was only 33.3%.

    In a team crowded with talent and more promising players to come, JRE could find himself on the outside looking in next season. However, he has still shown enough to be given a shot at NBA minutes, so even if it is not on the Thunder, he could be someone to monitor for deep fantasy leagues in the future.

    Jaylin Williams
    PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 49 36 18.7 2.1 4.8 43.6 0.8 1.1 70.4 0.9 2.3 40.7 5.9 4.9 1.6 0.6 0.2 0.8

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 285/278 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 264/256 (8/9-cat)

    Williams, also referred to as JWill in an effort to distinguish between his fellow draft pick, was not a major part of the rotation in the opening months of the season. Since he was not guaranteed to feature on most nights, he would have been left on waiver wires across fantasy leagues at that time. However, a frontcourt injury crisis forced him into an elevated role and JWill would hold on to that job for the rest of the year.

    His statistics weren’t spectacular, but Williams offered some floor-spacing with one 3PM in the games he started, while also providing around five-to-six boards. Despite that apparent subpar production though, the 6’10” big man was impactful through more intangible means. His 40.7% 3-point conversion on the season was also a positive indication that he can build a reputation to ensure defenses respect him as a spacer.

    The Thunder faithful compliment his touch and feel for the game, with a penchant for knowing where to be and how to take advantage of his teammates’ gravity. He also led the league for total charges drawn with 43, which is a positive indication of his ability to read the game. While not being the finished product, he has also shown promise as a switchable defender with capable feet on the perimeter which is an invaluable skill for a big man in the modern NBA.

    JWill seems like he can be a perfect complementary piece in an NBA rotation, but he will likely be no more than a backup with Chet Holmgren’s inaugural campaign coming in 2023-2024 and the likely addition of another frontcourt player next to him. So, while Williams seems promising enough to ensure that he earns NBA minutes, his fantasy outlook is a little worse due to his style of play and the upper limit for minutes as a backup. Even in his 36 appearances as a starter this season, he only averaged around 21 MPG. Much like this season, he will likely only be relevant in deep fantasy leagues moving forward and should be more impactful in a real-life setting.

    Aaron Wiggins
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 70 14 18.5 2.7 5.2 51.2 0.8 1.0 83.1 0.7 1.7 39.3 6.8 3.0 1.1 0.6 0.2 0.8
    21-22 OKC 50 35 24.2 3.1 6.7 46.3 1.2 1.7 72.9 0.8 2.8 30.4 8.3 3.6 1.4 0.6 0.2 1.1

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 230/221 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 286/278 (8/9-cat)

    Wiggins is continuing to prove that he can be serviceable member of an NBA roster despite being a late-second-round pick. He showed notable improvements as as shooter in his sophomore season, with increases of about 5% from the field, 10% from the free-throw line and 9% from the 3-point range. He is not a big-minute player though and those shooting splits came on low-volume attempts.

    In his games as a starter this season, Wiggins produced around 10 PPG and four RPG with just under one SPG and one 3PM. He is not going to be a notable name for draft night in fantasy leagues unless it is in very deep formats, but in terms of NBA continuity, Wiggins should be able to maintain a roster spot. For someone who was the No. 55 pick, that is more than enough and he has shown the work ethic to keep growing his game.

    Tre Mann
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 67 6 17.7 2.9 7.5 39.3 0.6 0.8 76.4 1.2 3.8 31.5 7.7 2.3 1.8 0.6 0.2 0.9
    21-22 OKC 60 26 22.8 3.9 9.8 39.3 1.1 1.4 79.3 1.6 4.5 36.0 10.4 2.9 1.5 0.8 0.2 1.2

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 262/273 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 315/334 (8/9-cat)

    Mann had fewer opportunities to shine this season, but in his chances to start, he recorded 15.4 PPG, 5.0 APG, 5.0 RPG and 1.6 SPG in 31.1 MPG. He only shot 42.5% from the field and 24.1% from beyond the arc though, but converted 88.9% of his free throws. Mann is a scorer through and through, although he is an inefficient one. He was not a major part of the rotation in the second half of the season, as his general abilities were not useful towards winning for the team. He did get to show out in the final game of the season though, registering 24 points, 12 rebounds and 12 dimes in 46 minutes of work.

    Mann’s future as a fantasy asset looks bleak, as he does not profile as a consistent rotation player since his top skill is scoring, but he does it inefficiently. He is fun to watch when the shots are falling, but that isn’t useful if it only happens on enough volume to be useful twice a season. The fact that SGA didn’t get shut down or hurt basically took Mann out of the fantasy equation. The only way Mann will become more relevant for fantasy is through vast improvements in his all-round game or by getting a chance for decent minutes with another team while banking on the strong counting stats he can put up.

    Ousmane Dieng
    SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 39 1 14.6 1.9 4.6 42.0 0.4 0.6 65.2 0.7 2.5 26.5 4.9 2.7 1.2 0.4 0.2 0.7

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 368/371 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 392/396 (8/9-cat)

    On the final day of the regular season, Dieng got the opportunity to play 45 minutes in a game which did not mean much from a broader perspective. However, it meant a lot for Dieng as that was undoubtedly the best game of his rookie campaign, tallying 22 points (8-of-15 FG, 2-of-8 3PT, 4-of-5 FT), eight rebounds, nine assists, one steal and one block, to go along with a less welcome four turnovers. It is easy to forget that he was a lottery pick, who was selected one spot above ROY runner-up Jalen Williams. Dieng was never expected to deliver immediately though, as he was selected for the upside based on his raw assets. It seems like he played much less than the 40 appearances on record indicate, but that is because 13 of those games featured single-digit minutes and he only received 20-plus minutes on five occasions — a wrist fracture accounted for most of the absences.

    So, why was Dieng the No. 11 pick in the 2022 draft?

    He is a 19-year-old 6’10” forward with ball-handling skills and promise as a shooter. He has, for now, only shown flashes of brilliance, but Dieng has the potential to become an elite two-way wing if he pans out. This is why Thunder GM Sam Presti gave up three first-round picks to acquire him. At his peak, he should be able to provide solid scoring and rebounding with a few assists as a connector on offense. He also needs to keep developing his 3-point shot. Dieng will likely play in the 2023 Summer League, so we will need to continue evaluating his progress in that tournament and during the NBA preseason, as improvements could see him landing a larger role next season.

    Lindy Waters III
    SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 41 0 13.0 1.7 4.3 39.3 0.4 0.5 80.0 1.4 4.0 35.8 5.2 1.8 0.7 0.3 0.3 0.2
    21-22 OKC 25 1 18.6 2.8 7.0 40.6 0.2 0.2 80.0 2.1 5.8 36.3 8.0 2.9 1.0 0.8 0.3 0.4

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 350/332 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 373/340 (8/9-cat)

    Waters was rewarded with an upgrade from a two-way contract to a full-time two-year deal in February. However, the second year is a team option for the 2023-2024 campaign, so Waters is not guaranteed to even be on the roster next season if the Thunder deem him expendable. He is a homegrown prospect though, and the 6’6″ wing has shown promise as a spacer. This was most notable in a season-best performance on March 8 against the Suns where he made six 3-pointers on his way to 23 points.

    If Waters is not brought back via the team option, he may find himself re-signed on a another two-way contract. Averaging 1.4 threes a game in only 13.0 minutes of action is promising though, so Waters may have some value as a 3-point streamer if he ever carves out a consistent rotation role.

    Dario Saric
    PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 57 12 14.1 2.2 4.9 45.8 1.1 1.3 82.9 0.8 2.0 39.1 6.4 3.6 1.3 0.4 0.1 1.0
    21-22 PHO 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
    20-21 PHO 50 4 17.4 3.1 6.8 44.7 1.7 2.0 84.8 0.9 2.7 34.8 8.7 3.8 1.3 0.6 0.1 1.1

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 290/302 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 319/346 (8/9-cat)

    Saric missed the 2021-2022 season due to an ACL injury and found himself in a minor role this season, playing under 15 MPG in 57 appearances, split into 37 for the Suns and 20 for OKC. With an NBA career spanning back to 2016-2017, we are familiar with who Saric is as a player by now. He is a floor-spacing big man who does not offer much production outside of his 3-point shooting.

    As a starter, Saric hit 1.7 triples a game in 21.1 minutes. He also produced 2.6 assists in the starting lineup, as he can be an adept passer but generally doesn’t produce enough dimes to amount to substantial fantasy value. Saric is just a 3-point streamer when he sees elevated playing time and is unlikely to be much more than that moving forward. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so we may see him moving on to another situation which needs a frontcourt spacer.

    Olivier Sarr
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 9 1 12.7 1.7 3.3 50.0 0.6 0.8 71.4 0.1 0.9 12.5 4.0 3.4 0.4 0.1 0.6 0.4
    21-22 OKC 22 2 19.1 2.6 4.6 57.4 1.1 1.3 82.8 0.6 1.3 44.8 7.0 4.2 0.9 0.3 0.7 1.0

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 464/463 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 398/384 (8/9-cat)

    Sarr was one of the multiple fringe players on the Thunder who got an opportunity to shine on the final day of the regular season. In 42 minutes against the Grizzlies, he put together 22 points (10-of-15 FG, 2-of-4 FT), 15 rebounds, one assist and one steal while missing two 3-point attempts. Sarr was one of the better performers during the Thunder’s late-season tanking in 2021-2022 when they featured a bunch of fringe NBA players, but he is yet to earn a steady roster spot in the NBA. He was signed to a two-way deal by the Blazers at the beginning of the 2022-2023 season but was eventually waived before finding himself on the Thunder again.

    Sarr shows promise as a fantasy producer when he gets minutes with better-than-average FT% for a big and a willingness to attempt 3-point shots. He can also rack up rebounds, but as a 24-year-old who is finding it difficult to maintain an NBA roster spot, his fantasy outlook seems bleak aside from the end-of-year opportunities he gets.

    Jared Butler
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
    22-23 OKC 6 1 12.8 2.5 5.3 46.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 2.3 50.0 6.2 0.7 1.3 0.8 0.0 0.8
    21-22 UTA 41 1 8.2 1.4 3.5 40.0 0.2 0.3 58.3 0.7 2.0 32.1 3.7 1.0 1.5 0.4 0.2 0.8

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 465/464 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 310/317 (8/9-cat)

    Butler was signed to a two-way deal thanks to a wave of events which involved OKC converting Eugene Omoruyi to a standard contract, waiving him and then converting Lindy Waters III’s two-way contract into a full-time one. After that, they were left with an open two-way spot which they used to sign Butler. Thunder GM Sam Presti is known for his talent evaluation and Butler fits the mold, as despite being a second-round pick in 2021, Butler was well-liked by many scouts and draft analysts. He was generally seen as a first-round talent, but fell in the draft due to health concerns.

    Butler was highly rated for his scoring ability via rim pressure and strong conversion from mid-range. Those skills contribute to his intrigue as an isolation scorer, but unfortunately Butler is not quite known for his defense, nor for his consistency from 3-point range. He was part of the fringe Thunder group who showed out in the final regular season game, registering 25 points (10-of-21 FG), three rebounds, four assists and one steal while shooting a promising 5-of-9 from three.

    Butler’s upside lies in his ability to score the ball, but if he can turn himself into a serviceable defender it will help him to earn more minutes at the NBA level. A consistent 3-point shot will also go a long way, especially if he can convert catch-and-shoot attempts since he will not get many on-ball reps. A peak outcome for Butler may be as a sixth man who can get buckets off the bench, in a similar fashion to Malik Monk’s role for the Kings this season. We are far from that at the moment though, so for now he is not quite in the realm of fantasy relevance aside from deeper dynasty formats.

    Fantasy Star

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took another leap this season and the circumstances of a poorly reported preseason injury, and a fantasy community that was afraid of him vanishing for half the season anyway, made him fall a couple rounds in drafts. SGA would have been a steal even if he went in the 20-to-30 range in though, so, an ADP of 44 on ESPN and 49 on Yahoo exacerbated the hurt felt by managers who did not draft him.

    Gilgeous-Alexander delivered 31.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks in 35.5 minutes across 68 regular-season games. He also converted 51.0% of his field-goal attempts, 90.5% of his free throws and 34.5% of his 3-pointers. This was good enough for SGA to be No. 3 in both 8-cat and 9-cat fantasy on a per-game basis, while he was also top-3 for both on totals. In simple terms, SGA returned early-first-round value despite being widely drafted in the fourth round of 12-team leagues.

    Some highlights of SGA’s season included two 44-point performances in a 138-129 victory against the Blazers on February 10 and against the Pelicans in a 125-128 loss on December 23, which both represent career-high marks for him. In the game against the Blazers, he also sank a career-high 18 free throws and was comfortably the top influencer in fantasy towards winning FT% this season. He also swatted a career-high-tying four blocks on two separate occasions this season (he had another four-block game in 2019), contributing to his better-than-usual block rate for a guard.

    SGA led his team to the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference, giving OKC a shot at he playoffs through the Play-In tournament. The first Play-In game against the Pelicans was more of the same as Gilgeous-Alexander scored 32 points (11-of-22 FG, 8-of-8 FT) to go with five rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 41 minutes as the Thunder won 123-118. They were one win away from a storied season, but it was not to be, as they lost 95-120 to the Wolves in the final Play-In matchup. SGA had an off night, as he shot 5-of-19 from the field, but made 12-of-12 free throws for 22 points, adding seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and one steal in 36 minutes.

    While the end was disappointing, hopefully the circumstance of being so close yet falling just short will drive SGA to evolve his game even further. He has already shown the ability to improve massively throughout his short career and as a well-rounded player already, a consistent 3-point shot could turn SGA into the complete package. The only season of his five-year career where he attempted and hit fewer 3-pointers was in his rookie year, but clearly that did not hinder him significantly in 2022-2023. A consistent deep ball would open up the floor even more for the superstar who already penetrates defenses so easily and could perhaps allow him to make a run for the No. 1 player in fantasy as well.

    Fantasy Letdown

    From a broad perspective there wasn’t a major fantasy letdown on the Thunder, since aside from Shai Gikgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, the other Thunder players were either late-round 12-team fliers or went undrafted. The only player who can really be called a disappointment is Aleksej Pokusevski, although it may be a bit harsh since injuries threw off a positive start to the season.

    Poku had an ADP of 140 on both ESPN and Yahoo and finished with per-game values in the range of 175-to-180, with total values just outside the top-290. His per-game value suffered due to three low-minute appearances at the end of March and some inconsistent playing time earlier in the season due to the rotation roulette the Thunder were employing based on matchups. As a starter, Poku averaged 1.4 blocks, 0.7 steals, 1.3 triples, 2.1 assists 5.3 rebounds and 9.3 points in 22.8 minutes a game across 25 contests. Those stats would be good enough for depth duties on some 12-team rosters if a fantasy GM was looking for a combination of blocks and 3-pointers with some upside in steals.The only downside was the roulette of course, although by November, Pokusevski was starting a lot more than he was being benched so he began to be somewhat reliable. Some of those starts still resulted in low minutes as well, but those games were more the exception than the norm.

    Unfortunately, Poku likely won’t get another significant chance for big minutes consistently in the coming season, unless the Thunder suffer frontcourt injuries. Chet Holmgren is returning and they are also expected to draft someone who can fulfill the PF role in the upcoming draft. Ousmane Dieng also has high expectations after the Thunder invested a lot to acquire him with the No. 11 pick, so he will also be given a chance if he shows improvements. Poku is undoubtedly a fun and unique player though, but for now, we may have to settle for him being a deep-league option in the near future, if he even gets major rotation minutes at all.

    One to Watch

    The easy answer for who we want to watch would be Chet Holmgren. However, that answer is too obvious as everyone will have their eyes on him anyway. A more interesting player to watch will be Ousmane Dieng. The Thunder traded three future first-round picks (via the Wizards, Nuggets and Pistons with heavy protections) to the Knicks on draft night in order to select Dieng, who was a raw albeit promising prospect. They were not unaccustomed to project players though, as seen with their selection of Aleksej Pokusevski a few years prior.

    As stated earlier, Dieng is a 19-year-old 6’10” forward with ball-handling skills who has shown potential as a shooter and as a secondary playmaker. His length also gives him potential to develop on the defensive end. In his appearances with any significant minutes this season, Dieng displayed solid rebounding and scoring while also hitting some 3-pointers. The secondary playmaking was not as present, other than the final regular-season explosion for 22 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and two triples with a steal and a block. That was a game which did not mean much in the broader scope of the NBA though and Dieng played 45 minutes with the absence of the team’s regular lead players.

    As a speculative guess, if Dieng were to play around 20-to-22 minutes a game next season, he may average around 11-to-12 points, seven rebounds, two-to-three assists and over one 3-pointer a game. He has not shown much proclivity for collecting defensive stats though, so it is harder to pinpoint how well he can produce in those categories. If Dieng shows enough improvement to elevate himself into starter’s minutes, then he could viably become a 12-team-worthy player for points, rebounds, 3-pointers and the off chance of some assists. He is probably not worth an end-of-draft flier in 12-team leagues unless he is starting in preseason though, so he may be one to watch as a waiver pickup based on how his season progresses in 2023-2024. His status for deeper leagues will also need to be judged on how involved he seems to be before the season begins.

    One Burning Question

    The burning question for the Thunder is multitudinous, as the main inquiry cascades into further topics which will be up in the air.

    The first question is how well will Chet Holmgren integrate and perform in his rookie campaign?

    The Thunder missed an interior presence who could offer rim protection in 2022-2023 and Holmgren has shown off elite rim-protection skills before taking to the NBA court. Despite his frame, he has some guile in terms of bouncing off or absorbing contact from bigger players, following up with a well-timed leap to deny them under the hoop. Offensively, he showed off ball-handling skills in his Summer League stint but also displayed maturity in terms of letting the offense flow instead of forcing things. Holmgren should be able to fit into the Thunder offense as both an on-ball and off-ball threat, with some connective secondary playmaking and potential as a floor-spacer.

    So, if Holmgren is everything he was advertised to be, can the Thunder take another leap?

    The Western Conference is deep and teams around the Thunder will likely get better as well. If Zion Williamson can remain healthy for most of the season, the Pelicans should be able to challenge for an automatic playoff spot. The Mavericks will likely attempt to retool and if they keep Kyrie Irving, that backcourt duo with Luka Doncic is fearsome offensively despite their failures this season. The Rockets will also likely be trying to improve and challenge for the Play-In under Ime Udoka, the Jazz have an intriguing core, the Blazers still have Damian Lillard (for now) and there are also still the teams who were ahead of OKC who need to be surpassed. There is no definitive answer for how much further the Thunder can improve in just one year, but their future is bright regardless.

    Given the prior question, will the Thunder remain patient building out the team and letting their young stars develop or will they go all in with their draft capital and youngsters to acquire a superstar?

    That seems unlikely. Thunder GM Sam Presti has seen a young group develop into superstars before and will likely not want to repeat mistakes of the past by letting go of assets prematurely, whether that be draft capital which could turn into more top-notch young stars, or their current group which already has a borderline-MVP in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a number of other promising talents. The expectation should be for them to assess what they have with Chet Holmgren, along with the other acquisitions they make ahead of the 2023-2024 season. While OKC is picking at the No. 12 spot in the draft, they have the assets to trade up once again if there is someone they really want. Jarace Walker is one such player who many think would be a great fit for the PF role, but is expected to be drafted before it is OKC’s turn.

    The Thunder are a fun young team overall, so neutral NBA fans and fantasy players alike should be excited to monitor their future developments in the 2023-2024 season and beyond.

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