Josh Giddey OKC Thunder 24 avril 2022

still the lowlands for OKC

Just like last year, the Thunder gave full power to the youth and just like last year, the defeats were legion in Oklahoma. The story of a 2021-22 season that brought together tanking, kangaroo and tricolor pride.


Between 18 and 21 wins, a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who forgets his injury-rotten 2020-21 season and shows he is capable of being the leader of the Thunder’s future and not just a guy who scores a lot in a null team. We also hoped that Théo Maledon could confirm his great promises of year I and maintain his place in the 5 major. Young people who learn, not too many victories but a future that looks bright despite everything, hard to wish for better for a team in total reconstruction.


Sam Presti had announced the color from the outset: veterans were not welcome at OKC. Exit Al Horford, in the closet for months, and hello to Kemba Walker. An All-Star point guard to play Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s big brothers sounded good but the former Hornets didn’t make old bones in Oklahoma, especially since the franchise had already bet big on a young prodigy brought to play on the backcourt, a certain Josh Giddey but we will come back to this. So here is the (very) young band of Mark Daigneault who is preparing to attack an exercise with the only Derrick Favors as a mentor.

Unsurprisingly, OKC started very badly with several defeats including a few beatings. Luckily for Oklahoma players, the Lakers are never far behind when it comes to building momentum for another team. We expected the Thunder at the bottom of the standings and after three weeks, Sam Presti’s proteges find themselves almost in balance (5-6). The sign that we were totally wrong for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander & co? No. Hunt the natural it quickly comes back at a gallop and the defeats come knocking at the door. SGA begins to have its first sores, the coach continues his tinkering between the fifteen young people he is supposed to develop at the same time and lightning falls on this toddler project at the beginning of December. Some open calendars and chocolates, Thunder fans cry tears of blood when they see their team take 73 in Memphis, a new all-time record in the NBA. A shipwreck that wakes up the franchise a little, which ends the calendar year with a better dynamic.

As soon as the champagne is over and the New Year is celebrated, it’s off again with a suitcase of defeats. Positive point, it is fighting and OKC manages to make some teams sweat while preserving its rotten balance sheet. SGA goes back to the infirmary for his first extended stay. Paradoxically, the Thunder managed to win a few victories in his absence with a Josh Giddey who is gaining ground on the ground next to a still combative Luguentz Dort but also some nice surprises (Tre Mann in particular). Shai returns after the All-Star Game to smash big perfs in the wind and the tank ends its final evolution in mid-March with the last few referenced players sidelined (Dort and Giddey were already injured) and a five of start that looks more and more like the G League. In this freewheeling end of the season, the Frenchies take advantage of a few opportunities to show themselves. Olivier Sarr and Théo Maledon slam a few very serious matches before being cut for one and put back in the closet for the other. To believe that being good is not to the taste of management. Jaylen Hoard, he offers himself a last ten in franchise player mode with in particular a game of glutton at 20 points, 20 rebounds. OKC validates the fourth worst record in the League and the worst winning percentage since its first year post-move, Sam Presti can already think about what he will do in the Draft.



We could have put a screen of the five majors at the end of the season to laugh about the tanking of OKC but we prefer to talk a little cocorico with this little moment of history lived shortly before the new year. Théo Maledon, Olivier Sarr and Jaylen Hoard in uniform and on the ground at the same time! Not a first in tricolor history since the Spurs had already done it, but we can say that we saw a five with 60% of Frenchies in the NBA in 2022. We expect to be able to say the same sentence with the word “holders ” from now on.


Selected in 6th position by OKC, Josh Giddey had raised some doubts among the scouts but his debut will quickly make everyone agree: this little youngster has a lot of talent. Basketball IQ, versatility, vision of the game, ability to take responsibility, showtime assists, the guard delights in Oklahoma and even allows himself to dust off the history books of the League by becoming the youngest player to achieve a triple-double. With 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists in his rookie season, something tells us that the 3×10 will quickly become a habit, like a former local marsupilami. We are now waiting to see him partner with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander over time (they have only played 41 games together this season) but the Thunder have found a great nugget to build their future.


We are going to leave here on Théo Maledon because we were hoping for a sophomore season as promising as his rookie year. The leader had even pulled out all the stops by skipping the Olympics to do a lot of summer work and confirm expectations. Problem: the competition has gone up a notch compared to 2021 and our national Theo took the full brunt of the arrival of Josh Giddey but also that of a Tre Mann who showed good things. Between fluctuating playing time, erratic performances and stints in the G League, it’s been hard for Maledon to really find his groove within Mark Daigneault’s rotation. A real disappointment when you see what he was able to show when given responsibilities. Good example with this week (5 games) at 20 points, 5 assists at the end of March, each time as a holder. Good performances which will be followed by a new shelving (who knows why), the last blow of a season which will not have been a walk in the park for the native of Rouen.


Unsurprisingly, the Thunder will continue its youth policy by associating a new big pick with the nursery. With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as a franchise player, the talented Josh Giddey showing all his talent, Luguentz Dort to infect the whole team with his pit bull mentality, plus some young people who are pushing, there is really a way to do something good . Be careful all the same not to get lost in the “Process”: by dint of wanting to develop too many young people, you end up sabotaging everyone. The presence of a veteran or two could do this group some good.

OKC continues to play ping pong balls and young prospects to develop. Under these conditions, the word win quickly becomes taboo and we are on track to repeat ourselves in 2023.

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