Predicting the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Regular Season

The rolling Oklahoma City Thunder were among the hottest teams in 2020, shocking every doubter prior to the season’s suspension. The team was projected to land in the lottery, but the additions of Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari helped them rise up the Western Conference. The NBA has been on hiatus for three months, but the biggest question surrounding this team is whether they will be able to return to the same high level of play. 

August 1st vs. Utah Jazz: Loss

The momentum that the Thunder had is now gone. Paul is 35 years old, and even though he might not start off strong like his younger teammates, his leadership and experience will help the team eventually get back on track. 

August 3rd vs. Denver Nuggets: Loss

This team has a tough schedule to start, playing three very strong opponents right out of the gate. The Thunder will have trouble guarding a playmaking center like Nikola Jokic, who has been on another level this year. Steven Adams will have to step up and slow down Jokic for Oklahoma City to stand a chance in this one.

August 5th vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Loss

Half of the Banana Boat crew will be playing in this game, though the trajectories of Lebron James’s Lakers and Paul’s Thunder are headed in opposite directions. The Thunder are a team full of young players, and they have multiple high draft picks in their future. However, they do not have the kind of win-now roster they’d need to beat the Lakers.

August 7th vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Win

Paul is arguably the best point guard in the NBA, and the Grizzlies’ Ja Morant is one of the best young talents in the league. This will be a great matchup as the future Hall of Famer faces off against the future of the point guard position. In the end, experience will win this game. 

August 9th vs. Washington Wizards: Win

Without Bradley Beal and John Wall, the Wizards won’t win this game. The Thunder should roll right over them as they attempt to return to the days of the 2019-2020 season. 

August 10th vs. Phoenix Suns: Loss

At this point in their careers, the trio of Paul, Adams, and Gallinari will out-match Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Kelly Oubre. The Thunder have a lot of veteran experience, while the Suns have never been close to making the playoffs in the Booker era. 

August 12th vs. Miami Heat: Loss

The Heat have more to lose in this game than the Thunder. Those who work the hardest usually win, and Jimmy Butler will never let his team go out quietly in such a significant game. At the rate the Thunder have been going, the chance of them improving their seeding is very slim, so this game will not be as important for them.

August 14th vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Win

The Clippers will bench most of their players in this game, and the Thunder might follow suit. The only thing that separates the two teams is that the Thunder could use this win to hold on to their current playoff position. 

The Thunder will finish the season with a 3-5 record, making the playoffs despite a less-than-impressive effort in Orlando. The seeding in the West is not decided yet, but Oklahoma City’s tough schedule will likely prevent them from moving up in the standings.

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