Strengths and Weaknesses of the Oklahoma City Thunder Roster for the 2020-21 NBA Season
Not many people expected to see the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Playoffs last season, but that’s exactly where the team landed. Chris Paul was excellent, and the franchise used his increased value to trade him for a bunch of picks.
Other experienced players had the same fate, and suddenly, the Thunder have entered a rebuild mode. They have one potential star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and all the draft picks in the world.
The problem is that it leaves them exposed for the upcoming season, as you can see from my Oklahoma City Thunder roster analysis for the 2020-21 NBA campaign.
Oklahoma City Roster for 2020-21
Before I move on to my thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses the Thunder, let’s see the complete roster of the team for next season.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- George Hill
- Frank Jackson
- Ty Jerome
- Josh Gray
- Theo Maledon
- Chasson Randle
- Luguentz Dort
- Hamidou Diallo
- Andre Roberson
- Vit Krejci
- Trevor Ariza
- Darius Bazley
- Kenrich Williams
- Darius Miller
- Admiral Schofield
- Justin Jackson
- Kevin Hervey
- Zylan Cheatham
- Mike Muscala
- T.J. Leaf
- Deonte Burton
- Isaiah Roby
- Al Horford
- Aleksej Pokusevski
- Vincent Poirier
Some of the players will be released, others might be traded before the start of the season, but the core will likely remain the same.
I’m not 100% sure what the starting lineup would look like, but I expect to see Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Trevor Ariza, Mike Muscala, and Al Horford on the floor the most often.
The likes of T.J. Leaf, rookie Aleksej Pokusevski, Darius Bazley, Hamidou Diallo, Andre Robertson, George Hill, and Ty Jerome should feature regularly from the bench. It’s a weird group of players that includes mostly veterans and youngsters. The lack of stars in their prime is obvious and could be a huge issue.
No Leadership and Experience in Oklahoma
I’ll get into specifics about the defense and offense of the OKC Thunder shortly, but I would like to discuss the elephant in the room first. The organization traded Chris Paul to the Suns for draft picks and Ricky Rubio, then sent the Spaniard to the Timberwolves for more picks, and also got rid of Dennis Schroeder and Steven Adams mostly for … even more, picks.
Sam Presti went all-in on future assets, and that’s a risky plan. It leaves the team short on experience and leadership for the upcoming season. The likes of Ariza and Horford bring that, but it’s not enough.
As it stands, the Thunder might end up as one of the franchises with the worst regular-season records in the league.
That’s usually not the end of the world, and it would result in a high draft pick in 2021, but I’m not sure that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be happy about it.
The young guard blossomed into an excellent second option last year, and he might be hungry for more wins. Gilgeous-Alexander is the closest thing to a star on the roster, though, and that’s not a good sign for the upcoming season.
The player looks happy right now, but if the OKC Thunder are too far from the playoffs, that could change quickly.
Thunder Offense Analysis
One of the biggest problems for the Thunder in the 2020-21 NBA season would likely be offensive production. The team had one of the best floor generals in Chris Paul and a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Dennis Schroeder, who was firing from the bench last year.
There is no direct replacement for either player, and that would be a problem. Gilgeous-Alexander should be the point guard from now, and there are a couple of things to consider here. The youngster is very good when it comes to creating his own shot, as you can see below.
The problem is that he doesn’t do that well for the others, and he’s a below-average shooter from the outside who needs spacing to operate well.
There are several starters that could shoot from downtown, but none of them is truly elite in this aspect of the game. As a result, the Thunder could be one of the worst offensive teams in the West in the 2020-21 season.
The bench might be respectable on that end thanks to George Hill, but the franchise can’t compare with the playoff contenders right now.
Thunder Defense Analysis
I’m not sure what to expect from the defense of the Thunder, but it should be better than the offense. Gilgeous-Alexander has the size and work rate required on that end of the floor, while the likes of Ariza and Dort are fine too.
The perimeter will be protected well, but there are question marks about the paint. Mike Muscala is a liability on defense, and while Al Horford is not a bad player defensively, he is 34. You can’t rely on him to carry the defense when his backcourt partner isn’t helpful.
That could lead to trouble in some matchups, which is why I expect the Thunder to be just below average on the defensive end of the floor.
The Oklahoma City Thunder roster for next season is clearly not built to compete. The goal here would be to try a bunch of young players and see who’s good enough to stay around and help Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the future.
In the meantime, the franchise will likely finish in one of the last spots in the West and earn a high draft pick for 2021.
Do you agree with my assessment of the Thunder roster? Let me know in the comments section below. I also recommend you to check the following posts for other NBA teams.