2021-22 Oklahoma City Thunder season preview: Roster changes, depth chart, key storylines and games to watch | NBA.com Canada

The 2021-22 NBA Season will start on Oct. 19 (ET). In preparation for the next season, we are dedicating one-day to each team in order to make sure they have a good season.

Next up are the Oklahoma City Thunder.

2020-21 season record

22-50, 14th Eastern Conference

Notable additions

Josh Giddey is the No. 6 pick in 2021 NBA Draft

Tre Mann, No. 18 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, No. 32 pick in 2021 NBA Draft

Aaron Wiggins, No. 55 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft

Derrick Favors, trade

Notable departures

Moses Brown trade

Al Horford, trade

Tony Bradley, Free Agency

Svi Mykhailiuk, free agency

Depth chart

Oklahoma City Thunder depth chart (2021-22)

StartersSecondThirdFourthFifthPG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Theo Maledon Tre Mann Vit KrejciSGLuguentz Dort Ty Jerome Aaron Wiggins Paul Watson Rob EdwardsSF Josh Giddey Aleksej Pokusevski Kenrich Williams Gabriel DeckPFDarius Bazley Jeremiah Robinson–Earl D.J. Wilson Mamadi DiakiteC Derrick Favors Isaiah Roby Mike Muscala

3 Key Storylines

Evolution of Gilgeous Alexander & Dort

Gilgeous Alexander and Dort are two of the young stars in a rebuilding roster that is largely filled with inexperienced players.

SGA’s five year contract worth $172.5M, which kicks in next seasons, keeps him in Oklahoma City through at least 2027. Dort is still under contract with the franchise until 2023.

If Gilgeous Alexander makes the next leap, Dort could be a reliable No. The Canadian duo could become one of the best young duos in the league and be the franchise cornerstones.

Their leadership on and off court will play an important role in the franchise’s next step in its rebuild.

Giddey’s rookie season

The Thunder drafted the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. With that pick, they selected Australian Giddey.

The 19-year old is the first NBA Academy graduate to be selected in the NBA Draft. He is coming off a season with the NBL, where he was named Rookie-of-the-Year with averages of 10.9 point, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.6 assists in 28 games.

His 6-foot-8 frame, and his playmaking ability allow him to be played alongside Dort and SGA. Although he isn’t the best candidate for the Rookie-of-the Year award, his knowledge of the franchise’s two most prominent stars helps him to be an invaluable third asset that the team can rebuild around.

Future draft picks and franchise decisions

The Thunder’s recent rebuild began with the trade of Russell Westbrook and Paul George. This move promised them plenty in draft capital for many years to come.

Oklahoma City now has 36 draft picks, with 18 in round one and 18 in round two of the Kemba Walker trade earlier in the offseason. Here’s a comprehensive guide to their draft treasure.

The team can’t keep all the picks, given the players on their roster. The Thunder will need to flip their draft capital in order to acquire a marquee player that could accelerate their rebuilding or raise the ceiling of their young roster.

When will Oklahoma City pull that trigger? This will be the first season that they have accumulated the picks. Will this season’s outcome help them decide? Or will they wait for another season? Everyone is anxious to see what happens with all those picks.

Five games to watch

Oct. 22 at Houston Rockets

The Rockets have been a team Thunder fans have circled on their calendar for years. They got to see a star who was once with them. Since 2012, it has been James Harden. In 2019, Harden was with Westbrook.

Although there is no connection between the Thunder and Rockets, they are still OKC’s team to watch. Both franchises are rebuilding and it’s a race to see who can do it faster. Houston has Jalen Green as their draft pick, while the Thunder have Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey and Dort.

Oct. 27 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

It’s Russell Westbrook returning to the Thunder. Since being traded to the Thunder in 2019, the former OKC MVP had played on a different team each of the three seasons. He’s bringing the Lakers, his hometown franchise and title contender, with him this year. He’ll be joined by former Thunder player Carmelo Tony.

Dec. 8 at Toronto Raptors

The Raptors will return to Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena next season after playing home games in Tampa, Fla. in the 2020-21 season.

The Thunder do not have one, but two young Canadian stars on the roster. Gilgeous-Alexander is and Dort is excited to be able to play in front family and friends.

SGA was nearly two years ago when he last visited.

Mar. 9 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Everyone tries their best to win when the defending champions are visiting. This season, the Milwaukee Bucks will be visiting in the second half.

Apr. Apr.

No. No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham played his college season at Oklahoma State. As the season winds down, the rebuilding Pistons make one trip to OKC.

The views expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the NBA or its affiliated clubs.

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