So it turns out that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey are pretty important to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That’s my big takeaway from watching OKC’s first three games of the 2022-23 season. Groundbreaking stuff, I know. That’s why they don’t pay me the big bucks.
The Thunder’s season debut against the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves was a much closer game than most OKC fans expected and absolutely far more nerve-wracking than every Wolves fan anticipated. KAT, Gobert, Ant, DLo and Co held a 16-point lead in the second half and both teams’ seasons were off to predicted starts. The Thunder went on a 19-2 run, took the high side and ended the third quarter in a draw. The last 5 minutes see-sawed between a one and two possession game. Minny ultimately took home the win, but OKC gave the title hopeful Target Center crowd a scare.
SGA had 32 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Giddey had 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks.
The Thunder nearly ruined another championship minded team’s home opener three nights later in Denver. Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic had his buddies Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back by his side so Nuggets fans understandably had already put a checkmark in the win column with the OKC Wembanyamas on tap. But the Thunder were still reading off the same script as game one. The scoring margin toggled between 0 to 5 points the entire final period. Denver got the feel-bad win, OKC got the moral victory loss.