Oklahoma City Thunder 2021 Offseason Outlook


Overview


The Oklahoma City Thunder completed the 2020-2021 NBA season with a record of 22-50 which placed them at 14th in the Western Conference and equal 26th in the league. Last offseason, the Thunder entered full rebuilding mode, trading away Chris Paul, Kelly Oubre Jr and Steven Adams while letting Danillo Gallinari walk in free agency, resulting in a tremendous amount of future first round picks to build around. Most expected this would lead to a tank season from the young, inexperienced squad but they started the season as a surprisingly competitive side. Eventually, injuries and some questionable rest reasons allowed the squad to tank for the number one pick. The Thunder found some great young talent through this however and while they didn’t land a top five pick, they have a lot to look forward to with this current roster. This offseason, they will have several draft decisions to make and will likely look to move more players like Kemba Walker on to acquire further assets.

Salary Cap


Currently, the Oklahoma City Thunder have 7 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2021-2022 season. They do not have any team or player options, but they do have some non-guaranteed salary to make decisions on. Gabriel Deck, Kenrich Williams, Isaiah Roby and Charlie Brown Jr all have small, non-guaranteed contracts for next season, all of which I expect to become fully guaranteed early in the offseason. The Thunder have two restricted free agents in Tony Bradley and Svi Mykhailiuk who may return depending on the draft selections and roster space. Oklahoma City have several unrestricted free agents in Mike Muscala, Deonte Burton, Norris Cole, Nick Collison, and Raymond Felton, many of which will likely not return to the squad next season. Josh Hall and Jaylen Hoard are also two-way free agents this offseason. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is eligible for the rookie-scale extension and the Thunder will be eager to get a deal done before he hits restricted free agency after an impressive season by Shai. Kemba Walker is also eligible for a veteran extension, but it is more likely the Thunder move on from him over getting an extension done. Due to the various large trade exceptions, the Thunder will enter the offseason as an above the cap team and will not have much flexibility in free agency. They will have the $9.5 million mid-level exception and $3.7 million bi-annual exception available to them.


Depth Chart 2020-21 Season–


2021 NBA Draft


The Oklahoma City Thunder will have the 6th, 16th, and 18th overall picks in the 2021 NBA Draft along with 3 second round picks. The Thunder are likely to move one or several of these picks for either talent or to move up in the draft order but for the purposes of this outlook, we will assume they have these picks in the draft. With the 6th pick in this years draft, the Thunder should look to target Scottie Barnes, a 6’8 forward out of Florida State. The Thunder need depth at the forward and center positions after trading Horford and Brown to Boston and Barnes will help with that. He is an elite defensive player with playmaking skills but still has room to improve on the offensive end. With the 16th pick in the draft, the Thunder should target Alperen Sengun, a 6’10” center out of Turkey. Sengun is a potential sleeper in this draft and has not commanded a lot of attention, but he is extremely well built and has a great feel for the game. He can certainly score but will have to improve defensively to gain consistent minutes in the NBA. With the 18th pick in the draft, the Thunder will have the freedom to take the best prospect available and should target Moses Moody, a 6’6” shooting guard out of Arkansas. Moody is an elite shooter who will contribute immediately as a 3 and D player, but he will need to improve his inside scoring to compete at the highest level.


Free Agency


The Oklahoma City Thunder will enter the free agency period as an over the cap team and will likely make very little noise during this time. Their main priorities will be to bring back their restricted free agents, Tony Bradley and Svi Mykhailiuk, with bird rights to help with their depth, especially after trading away their big men to Boston. The only unrestricted free agent that I can see the Thunder being interested in is Mike Muscala who will add some center depth and provides a veteran presence for the young frontcourt.


Summary


The Oklahoma City Thunder will begin the drafting phase of their rebuild this season with three chances to hit gold in the first round of this year’s draft and another three in the second round. They will likely use some of these picks to either trade up or trade for future assets, especially if they don’t like the talent available to them. Look for Kemba Walker to be moved some time before the trade deadline and another season of tanking and development for this quad. While their may be a lot of losing in the coming seasons, fans know that they can look forward to a massive stash of draft picks in the next few years and will hope the Thunder can draft their next superstar.


Projected Depth Chart 2021/22 Season –