NBA: Oklahoma’s Golden Summer. Should Thunder fight for Donovan Mitchell?

A lot has happened in Oklahoma City in recent weeks. Club leaders chose Chet Holmgren as the “two”, and their current young core – in the characters of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey – and his potential promises better days. Recently, however, there has been speculation that Thunder would be fighting for a renowned player that would immediately make them a candidate to fight for the playoffs anyway. Thunder has the resources to do it, but is it the right decision?

The process of a thorough reconstruction in Oklahoma City Thunderupside down Sam Prestic, a well-known (and beloved) collector of concept selections, has done relatively well so far. The club’s management managed to get the team’s key points (in my humble opinion) for which I considered the following a few weeks ago:

1. Choose the highest in the draft

When it was clear that Thunder would pick with the second pick-up and the top three most mocks were nominally strong wingers, that move was ticked off. For a long time it seemed to be this Jabari Smith Jr.not Paolo Banchero will become “one”, but despite this, the decision of the OKC board seemed clear much earlier. Chet Holmgren seemed to fit the philosophy and needs of the team.

Oklahoma already had a well-staffed position 1-3 in people Shaia Gilgeousa-Alexandra (PG), Luguentz Dort (SG, more on that) and Josh Giddy (SF/SG). Last season they were among other things under the basket Darius Bazley, Alexei Pokusevskic if Jaylen Hoardwith 14.7 points and 12 rebounds per game in 7 games played (long-term experience Derrick favors probably won’t be part of the rebuilt Thunder so I’m not including it here) and recently joined JaMychal GreenHowever, there was no “that someone” who would become some kind of support, leader and face of the “great men” of OKC.

Thunder thinks they found this one in Chet Holmgren. The first games of the Summer League showed that although he lacks muscle in height (213 cm) and exceptional arm reach (more than 226 cm), and therefore weight (88 kg), he has “the papers to play” and a huge potential. In the debut clash with Utah Jazz The 20-year-old scored 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks and 4 assists, hitting 7 of 9 shots, all in 24 minutes spent on the field. He lacked efficiency in subsequent matches, but kept hinting that he would soon join the roster of players to whom Thunder would entrust the future of the organization.

2. Josh Giddey – a diamond one step closer to a diamond

Apart from Chet Holmgren, yet another diamond is not cut Josh Giddey. When the Thunder player played the next games of this year’s Summer League, opinions emerged on social media that he was “too good” for this competition. However, these comments were quickly criticized. The Australian is only 19 years old and although he has had a solid 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 0.9 interceptions per game in previous NBA games (he hit 41.9% of all shots out of the game and a measly 26.3% for three), winning four best rookie of the month titles in the West, he has a lot of work to do. Regular glimpses of past matches and Summer competition However, they show that in his case “sky’s the limit”, and for the Thunder undergoing reconstruction, it fits almost perfectly. In the games of the aforementioned Summer League he presented a solid defense (on-ball) and both in the tournament in Salt Lake Citywhat Las Vegas he was one of the top assisting players (9.3 and 8.0 assists per game, respectively). It was not without losses (5.0 per game), but some of his passes were comparable to the ones performed LeBron James if Chris Paul and they were exceedingly beautiful.

However, the key will be how he fares with Shaiem Gilgeous-Alexander in the long run. While they both like to have the ball in their hands, in the 41 games (1924 shares/assets) they’ve played together so far, this issue hasn’t posed a major problem. Giddey himself admitted that ‘The chemistry between them is still growing’, “Love to play with him”and, if necessary, Shai “Can lead a team on his own”. With this emphasis we go to the next point.

3. Shut Down the Shaiem Trading Rumors

A subject that essentially disappeared as soon as it came up. Rumors of a willingness to trade Shaiem Gilgeous-Alexander emerged along with speculation about a possible transfer to another star. Among the names mentioned Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal or even James Harden. It soon became apparent that the Oklahoma draw would produce a not-so-classic big man. This in turn meant that 4 of the 5 positions are filled with players who have to look after the future of OKC, and these rumors died instantly.

– I think I’ve learned and my players understand that we live in the age of social media and people come up with things – Sam Presti said when asked about the rumors of his quarterback being traded. He also compared these kinds of messages with shop gossip.

4. Renew Lu Dort’s contract

Luguentz Dort he was one of the most valuable pieces in the free agent task force market. Interest in his services was expressed by, among others, Portland Trailblazers. Until a few weeks ago, there was evidence that Thunder would take advantage of the team’s option in the 23-year-old’s contract, making him a reserved free agent in a year’s time. However, the parties reached an agreement and the OKC authorities rejected the aforementioned option and offered the defenders a five-year contract worth $82.5 million.

Dort has shown that in the future it can be a key element of those who dream of competing with the leaders of the Thunder. In previous competitions – his third season on the track NBA – he averaged 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game and while Oklahoma are hoping he can improve his effectiveness from behind the arc (33.2%), in addition to his offensive potential, he is also an excellent defender with a reach of the arms of about 209 centimeters. It was not for nothing that he was considered a player who could receive tempting offers from teams that wanted to take the championship title. However, Dort showed that he wanted to play alongside Shai, Giddey and Chet, all led by The Daigneault brandwhich is probably not going anywhere.

Attack or hold back?

Thunder supporters have every reason to believe that their favorites will be competing for a place among the best teams in the Western Conference in the coming years. However, some analysts suggest that the resources collected by Sam Presti in the form of a multiple number of choices in the design should not and should not even be allocated to the roster of next, talented players, but should be included (along with some already selected players) in exchange for a star, which he will take over the reins of the team together with Shaiem. But let’s see what the possible OKC rotation looks like right now:

It seems that Thunder management has full confidence in the players (starters) in positions 1-3, and it could take up to 2-4 years to resolve the Chet Holmgren case (read if he is a player of the five starting players). If OKC were to “attack” another star it looks like it would be a strong winger and not Donovan Mitchellabout which much is now being said. Keep in mind, though, that a massive-caliber Thunder replacement would likely cost someone in the Gilgeous-Alexander/Dort/Giddey trio, and in this case the temptation to recruit Mitchell seems (relatively) justified, though not necessarily right. I have already mentioned the possibilities and potential of these three.

In an article on Sports Illustrated Chris Becker however, he cites ESPN’s proposed replacement scenario in which they would move to Utah Jazz Tre Mann, Derrick favors (the second return to Utah), JaMychal Green, Alexey Pokusevskic, three picks for the first round of 2024 and two picks for the first round of 2025. This way, the Thunder doesn’t lose any of its foundations, but adds Mitchell to the roster. In this setup, Dort becomes a ‘sixth man’ (which could negatively affect his development) or moves to a ‘three’, while Giddey, at 203cm tall, becomes a strong winger where he would likely have problems with defense . The first of these scenarios therefore seems more likely, but ask yourself: are Thunder’s win-now ready?

According to ESPN’s NBA Trading Machine (which is by no means a certain determinant) The Thunder gets 10 wins with this type of trade, which would bring their balance to 34-48. This would have only taken 10th or 11th place in previous competitions (same balance as 10th place). San Antonio Spurs). Such results will not please OKC (in the long run) or Mitchell. Despite the “high ceiling”, Giddey still has a lot of work to do, as evidenced by his poor performances, losses and mistakes in defense in the Summer League. Reserve players who can turn into task men (Alexei Pokusevski, Tre Mann or Theo Maledon) they still need limbs because while they look good, they play chess and the fact that Chet Holmgren has yet to prove and work out is probably known to everyone. The pressure to develop and deliver results at the same time does not positively affect the teenage athlete, either physically or mentally.

Keep in mind that before the season starts, the vast majority of teams are relatively happy with their rotations and doubts arise only after a few weeks. If Thunder really wanted to “pull” a star, they should at least wait until ‘trade deadline’. The coming season should still be marked by development, rather than approaches to the top ten in the West. If you download the star in February, you can still test different team settings and prepare for the fight in the 2023/24 season. This one should be ready to “let go” in a few months. However, it is known that there are as many opinions as many people. It is no different in this case.

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