How the OKC Thunder Can Buy In and Become Title Favorites

By Adam Kerr

The Oklahoma City Thunder have quickly turned themselves to the laughingstock of the league to the second seed in the Western Conference in just a few seasons. This can mostly be attributed to Sam Presti’s hunger for draft picks and the fact that they acquired a young guard named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander when trading away Paul George to the Clippers.

Shai is arguably the best point guard in the league, and those draft picks have turned into more young stars. Chet Holmgren, Jalen Williams, and Josh Giddey are some of Presti’s draft successes, and any of them could be why the Thunder win on any given night. 


They are surely a team to be feared by the time the playoffs start. However, they have nearly no experience at that stage. They haven’t made the playoffs since the 2020 Orlando Bubble, where Shai was still a young prospect who hadn’t truly blossomed yet. Their oldest player is 31-year-old Davis Bertans who doesn’t have any championship experience. If they want to make noise before they have to pay their young stars max extensions, they have to part ways with some of their draft capital.

The pool of available stars this season is not as premium as it was last season, but OKC has more than enough assets to pull off almost any move they want. If they want championship experience, the only realistic answer is Pascal Siakam in Toronto. The Raptors just traded away OG Anunoby for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, and are willing to trade Siakam to finish the Fire Sale up North.

Sam Presti has 15 first-round picks (some conditional, some guaranteed) that he could trade in the case of a blockbuster trade. If they do make a big trade, they would likely want to get rid of the previously mentioned Davis Bertans’ $16 million salary.


They also have an interesting situation with Josh Giddey. Giddey is in the midst of a possible legal issue but has not been suspended from the league yet. However, if the front office in OKC begins to sense that he may be punished by the league or a possible legal punishment, they might want to get a return on him before he can’t play for them. If they cannot get Siakam, they could also look into players like Kyle Kuzma and Jerami Grant for less of a haul and further deepen their roster.

To help out on the bench, someone like Alex Caruso would provide a great level of energy and leadership among the young guys. The Thunder will be great this year, but they shouldn’t have their eyes set on a championship yet until they pull the trigger and get an experienced star to put alongside their young core.