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Oklahoma City Thunder Betting Outlook
Western Conference Odds: +9000
Preseason NBA Championship Odds: +14000
It took a year longer than we expected but the Oklahoma City Thunder are in a full rebuild for the 2020-21 season. After trading Paul George and Russell Westbrook prior to the 2019-20 campaign, the Thunder were thought to be throwing in the towel but they made a surprising run to the playoffs and took Houston to a Game 7 in the first round.
With former coach Billy Donovan in Chicago, the Thunder head into 2020-21 without five of their top six scorers from last season’s squad. Only guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the team’s leading scorer at 19 points a game, is still around. In those players’ places are high-paid veterans that may be dealt or released and young players, making up a mix that is not conducive to making the postseason.
Mark Daigneault was promoted to his first NBA head coaching gig, and he’ll be working on building for the future. Oklahoma City has potentially four first-round picks in next year’s draft, just the start of a huge haul of first-rounders over the next few years.The Thunder aren’t focused on being good now, so you shouldn’t expect any level of success.
Thunder 2021 Predictions
Regular Season Record: 15-57
Conference Standing: 14th
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Oklahoma City Thunder Team Leaders
Gilgeous-Alexander will be the team leader with a few complementary pieces around him. Where last season he had Chris Paul to lean on as far as leadership, Gilgeous-Alexander needs to assert himself on both ends of the floor.The 22-year-old nearly doubled his scoring production in his second NBA season, averaging 19.0 points to go with 3.3 assists and 5.9 rebounds.
Al Horford has been a veteran presence on nearly every team he’s played on, though he’s now on his third franchise in as many seasons. He was a glue guy in Boston for years before switching to Philadelphia prior to last season. Things didn’t work out there, so now Horford is spending his 14th NBA season with the Thunder, or at least until a playoff contender needs a veteran big man and comes calling the Oklahoma City front office.
Oklahoma City Thunder Injuries
Oklahoma City Thunder Team History
The Oklahoma City Thunder came into existence in 2008 when the Seattle SuperSonics franchise relocated and renamed itself under an ownership group led by Clay Bennett. The SuperSonics had been in the NBA since joining the league as an expansion franchise in 1967, winning one NBA title in 1979.
In the Sonics’ last two seasons in Seattle, they drafted Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in consecutive drafts, forming the core of the team. P.J. Carlesimo came to Oklahoma City with the team as the head coach but only lasted 14 games. The Thunder fired Carlesimo when the team got off to a 1-13 start, replacing him with Scott Brooks on an interim basis.
After the team improved, finishing 23-59, Brooks got the job on a permanent basis. After taking James Harden in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Thunder felt they had a group that could make major improvements, and they did almost immediately.
Durant became the youngest player in league history to win the scoring title, averaging 30.1 points at age 21, and the Thunder improved by 27 wins to make the playoffs for the first time. The next season, Oklahoma City advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where it lost to Dallas, but the following season, the Thunder made the next step, advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time.
Oklahoma City took on the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, winning the first game but dropping the next four. It was the last time Harden, Westbrook and Durant would be on the floor together as teammates, as Harden was traded in the offseason to the Houston Rockets.
The team was still successful but failed to get back to the Finals. Durant was named league MVP for the 2013-14 season, but the Thunder couldn’t recapture the previous playoff success, leading to Brooks being let go at the end of the 2014-15 season and Donovan being named head coach.
The Thunder advanced to the Western Conference Finals in their first season under Donovan and held a 3-1 series advantage over the Golden State Warriors. But Oklahoma City didn’t win another game, and the Warriors advanced to the NBA Finals.That offseason, Durant left the team as a free agent to join the Warriors.
With Durant gone, Westbrook became the focal point, and in 2016-17, he became the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season, winning NBA MVP honors and leading the Thunder to the playoffs.The Thunder have made the playoffs every season since Durant left but haven’t won a series, falling in the first round each time.
Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets prior to the 2019-20 season, reuniting with old teammate Harden in a deal that brought Chris Paul to the team. Oklahoma City has dealt away much of the teams that made the playoff runs and continues to build for the future.
After having the duo of Westbrook and George in 2018-19, the Thunder traded both players prior to the 2019-20 campaign in deals that yielded multiple first-round draft picks in the future. It seemed like Oklahoma City wasn’t interested in making the postseason but rather was looking toward the future, but the Thunder’s players didn’t realize that.
Oklahoma City was surprisingly competitive behind Paul, Steven Adams and Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari.The Thunder dropped 10 of their first 15 games but rallied to reach .500 before Christmas.Oklahoma City was 40-24 when the NBA had to suspend play due to the coronavirus pandemic, and after going 4-4 in the Orlando bubble, entered the postseason as the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
In a back-and-forth series against Westbrook, Harden and the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City fell by two points in Game 7. Following the season, the Thunder parted ways with Donovan and traded Paul to the Phoenix Suns and Adams to the New Orleans Hornets, signaling another new era for the franchise.
Daigneault was named head coach on Nov. 11, 2020, making him the second-youngest active head coach in the league at age 35. It will be Daigneault’s first head coaching job in the NBA.
Daigneault worked his way up from being a graduate assistant under Donovan at the University of Florida to an assistant coaching job with the Gators from 2012-14. Daigneault became the head coach of the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G League team in 2014.
Daigneault went 143-107 in five seasons with the Blue, taking the team to the playoffs in four of the five campaigns. Last season, Daigneault was reunited with Donovan, serving as his assistant with the Thunder. When Donovan decided to leave Oklahoma City, Daigneault was promoted
Trevor Ariza, forward, Portland Trail Blazers
George Hill, guard, Milwaukee Bucks
Al Horford, center, Philadelphia 76ers
Frank Jackson, guard, New Orleans Pelicans
Justin Jackson, forward, Dallas Mavericks
Mark Daigneault, head coach
Dennis Schroder, guard, Los Angeles Lakers
Chris Paul, guard, Phoenix Suns
Steven Adams, center, New Orleans Pelicans
Danilo Gallinari, forward, Atlanta Hawks
Nerlens Noel, center, New York Knicks
Terrance Ferguson, guard, Philadelphia 76ers
Billy Donovan, head coach, Chicago Bulls
Aleksej Pokusevski, forward, Greece
Vit Krejci, guard, Spain
What city did the Thunder franchise start in?
Seattle, as the Sonics
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