2019 Oklahoma City Thunder Depth Chart
|Point Guard||Chris Paul||3||Dennis Schroder||17|
|Shooting Guard||Shai Gilgeous-Alexander||2||Andre Roberson*||21|
|Small Forward||Danilo Gallinari||8||Deonte Burton||30|
|Power Forward||Mike Muscala||31||Darius Bazley||0|
|Center||Steven Adams||12||Nerlens Noel||3|
The Oklahoma City Thunder finished 48-34, fourth in the Western Conference, last season but suffered a crushing defeat in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the up-and-coming Utah Jazz. Heading into the offseason, the Thunder needed to re-sign Paul George, which they did, while also finding a way to improve their team and getting out from underneath the massive shadow of Carmelo Anthony’s contract. They did all of those things by getting George to sign a four-year deal and trading Carmelo to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Dennis Schroder. They also acquired Nerlens Noel and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, two moves that will likely fly under the radar, and they add some much-needed length and athleticism to a bench that struggled last season. In addition to their new acquisitions, OKC will look to get Andre Roberson back from the patellar tear that he suffered last season. There is no word yet on whether or not he will be ready for the season opener on October 16th against the Golden State Warriors, but he is back to running at full strength and should begin practicing soon.
Getting Andre Roberson back into the starting lineup alongside Steven Adams, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George will be a nightmare for opposing offenses, as OKC’s 94.9 defensive rating in the 583 minutes those four played together was one of the top marks in the league. That doesn’t factor in that Jerami Grant and Patrick Patterson will each potentially add their own defensive abilities to the starting lineup. It is unclear at this point whether Grant will start over Patterson, so that will be something to watch heading into the season, but Grant’s length and ability to switch on defense makes him the odds-on favorite for the job. Last season, Grant ranked fourth in the NBA with a 97.7 defensive rating, so adding him to the starting lineup will make it incredibly hard for opposing offenses to score on the Thunder. OKC is still going to be one of the top rebounding teams in the NBA, as they ranked fifth last season with 45.1 rebounds per game, so there is plenty to look forward to with the Thunder this season.
Despite shooting just 29.8% from three-point range last season, Russell Westbrook still enjoyed one the best shooting seasons of his career by shooting 44.9% from the floor overall and he averaged 25.4 points, 10.3 assists, and 10.1 rebounds per game. Steven Adams took a leap forward last season, as well, averaging 13.9 points and 9 rebounds per game, while Paul George is coming off a season where he averaged 21.9 points per game, and shot 40.1 percent from beyond-the-arc, and a second season alongside Russell Westbrook should help him improve. His three-point will be extremely important for the Thunder because while they ranked 10th overall in offensive rating last season, averaging 107.6 points per 100 possessions, they were still one of the worst teams in the NBA from behind-the-arc as they managed to shoot just 35.4 percent from three-point range. Even though OKC had a fantastic offseason by being able to re-sign Paul George to a long-term deal, but they didn’t focus on adding shooting to their lineup in the offseason but they did focus on correcting another major issue they had last season with their bench scoring. With Russell Westbrook off the floor last season, OKC managed to score just 100.4 points per 100 possessions, but that should improve this year with Dennis Schroder leading the second unit alongside a healthy Patrick Patterson and an improved Alex Abrines. Schroder averaged 19.4 points per game, along with 6.2 assists per game, for the Atlanta Hawks last season but will likely struggle early on to adjust to his new role. His ability to attack the rim, much like Westbrook, gives OKC’s second unit a much-needed offensive boost as long as he remains efficient. Getting Patrick Patterson back to full-strength will help the bench offensively, as he is a career 37 percent three-point shooter, and he is still an excellent defender, while Nerlens Noel should anchor the bench unit defense in the paint. Alex Abrines got some much-needed playing time towards the end of last season and will look to improve on a solid post-season where he shot 46.2 percent from three-point range, while Terrance Ferguson will likely battle Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot for minutes. Ferguson showed flashes of his athleticism at times last season but struggled to consistently score and add value to the Oklahoma City offense.