This wasn’t supposed to be happening.
Especially not in The Year of Wembanyama. The Season of Scoot.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, known in some unSirius circles as the black eye of the league, were supposed to be a tanking cellar dweller. Bleacher Report predicted 18 wins. John Hollinger predicted 20 wins. Vegas predicted 23.5 wins.
Sam Presti cautioned anyone who would listen to his preseason presser to “save your predictions and burn your assumptions.” Looks like Sammy knew what he was talking about after all. Hope you all bet the over.
OKC has won four straight games.. all by double digits. OKC has won six of their last seven games.. all by double digits.. OKC’s only loss in that stretch was by 1 point on a night the Miami Heat made NBA history by hitting 40 of 40 free throws. OKC is now 14-9 at home. OKC has a +1.2 point differential, tied for 5th best in the West.
A little over halfway through the season, the Thunder are tied for the #8 spot in the Western Conference with a 22-23 record. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Co are half a game behind the world champion Warriors and the feel-good Jazz for the #6 seed and a guaranteed playoff spot. OKC is firmly in the play-in conversation, especially considering their current level of play and their league-easiest remaining schedule strength.
So how did a team that was aiming to break every block record next season by trotting out a Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama frontcourt go from battling for top four odds to battling a group of four for a playoff berth?