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Thunder Mid-Season Grades (Part 1)

We have now passed the halfway point of the 2022-23 season and the Thunder have passed all expectations. The youngest team in the league stands at 21-23 and just a game and a half behind the 6th seed! A team being this competitive at this young of age is very bright and they will have Chet Holmgren and potentially a couple more rookies coming next season. Let's dive into my mid-season player grades so far. I will be splitting this series into 3 parts, grading about 5 players for each part.

Picture via ThunderWire.usatoday

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - A++

Easily the brightest spot for the Thunder this season, and the main reason they have been winning games. He is without a doubt a candidate for the most improved player award, and an all-star, perhaps even a all-star starter and All-NBA member. SGA is one of the best attackers in the league, leading in drives per game and points per drive. His defense has also improved a lot from the past few seasons. He has recorded either a steal or block in every single game except one game. He of course leads the Thunder in points per game at 30.7, which is also 4th in the entire league. His efficiency has been great as well, shooting 50/35/91 splits. He does not shoot a lot of three-pointers, but his percentages have improved. The crazy part is, he is only 24 years old and not close to being done improving.

Josh Giddey - B+

Josh Giddey had a pretty slow start to his sophmore season. Nothing bad, but just not a ton of improvment. As fans do, people start overreacting and throwing his name into trade conversations. Giddey is still one of the youngest players in the league at 20 years old, and has shown such great potential. People question the fit of him and Shai together, but there is plenty of time to figure it out as this team is in no hurry to start competing for a championship. Lately though, people have changed their opinions. Just this past week, Josh Giddey recieved a nomination for player of the week. Last week he averaged 22.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 8.3 APG, and tying his career-high with 28 points in the win against the Brooklyn Nets. For the whole season his averages have been 16.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 5.7 APG. His numbers are up from last season along with his shooting percentages. His greatest improvement has been his three-point shooting. He has imporved by nearly 8% from downtown since last season!

Luguentz Dort - B

Lu Dort has been another player in possible trade considerations. The Thunder just signed him to a 5-year $87.5M extension this past off season. Dort has continued to be a great defender that we all know him as, typically guarding the other team's best scorer. His numbers this season are 14.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 2.3 APG. His scoring is slightly down this season, and I think that is why some people are disapointed in him this season. But he is quietly having quite the year, averaging career-highs in rebounds, assists, steals, and 3PT%. His three-point shooting to start the year was very poor and he was in an awful slump. He has been elite from beyond the arc as of late though, raising his yearly 3PT% to about league average, and the best of his career.

Jalen Williams (JDub) - A-

Jalen Williams has been an absolute steal. He was the 12th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and has made an immediate impact. He was the October/November Rookie of the Month winner and was a ROTM candidate for the month of December as well. He has shown great potential to be an excellant two-way guard in this league. He was overlooked heading into the season since the spotlight was all on the 2nd overall pick, Chet Holmgren, but with Chet out for the season, JDub has picked it up and shown he can be a potential star in this league one day. His rookie numbers so far have been 11.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, and 1 SPG. His three-point shooting is definitely something that can be improved, but most rookies usually get that up in their 2nd or 3rd season. (Just look at Josh Giddey.)

Aleksej Pokusevski - B+

One of the more surprising factors this year has been the improvment of Aleksej Pokusevski. We went from last season saying it is time to give up on Poku and he just won't develop into anything worth keeping him for, to this seasons saying he could be a piece for the future of this team. With very little height on this team, Poku has seen a slight increase of role on this team. He has started 25 of his 31 games played this season, and primarily at the center position. His shot blocking ability and interior defense has been a great sight, as he is averaging 1.3 blocks per game, leading his draft class in blocks this season. The thing I would say is even more impressive for Poku is the huge improvement in three-point percentage. His first two seasons with the team, he was around the 28%-29% range but this season he has jumped up all the way to 37.6%! That is above league average and much needed on a team that does not have a ton of outside shooting.

Make sure to follow me, @OKCDistrict_ on Twitter to stay up to date on all Thunder news, updates, and more! As always, Thunder up.


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