The Oklahoma City Thunder will begin training camp on Tuesday with just over three weeks to go to the 2021-22 season. Before the start of the season, they will transport 20 players through training camp and four preseason games.
At some point, the Thunder will have to make cuts to the roster, finalizing their 15-man roster ahead of the season. They will also have the option of carrying their two players back into the season as well.
With media day on Monday, several key themes emerged as players took stock of their summer activities and what to expect for the season ahead. Plus, the training camp roster itself provided some insight into the type of team Oklahoma City wants to push forward.
In the 24 hours leading up to media day, the Thunder took several steps to finalize their 20-man roster for training camp.
They started by giving up Charlie Brown Jr. before signing Mamadi Diakite, Rob Edwards and DJ Wilson.
These are the last three additions to the squad to complete the roster. They will each have the opportunity to earn a spot in the roster over the next few weeks as they demonstrate their skills in training and in preseason games.
Game without position
It is becoming increasingly clear as the season approaches that the Thunder are committed to playing a positionless style of basketball. In recent drafts, Oklahoma City have used their first-round draft capital on players versatile enough to play in multiple positions.
More recently this has included a 7ft wing to Aleksej Pokusevski and a 6ft 9in point guard to Josh Giddey.
Even Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault alluded to playing that way last season when talking about the non-positional players on the OKC roster.
“Traditional positions don’t apply to a lot of the players on our team,” Daigneault said in January.
Barely a month later, Daigneault spoke of the Golden State Warriors’ success with the versatility they had in their roster.
On Monday’s media day, Daigneault doubled down on the positionless playstyle by talking about the benefits of having a roster full of players who can handle the ball.
“One of the things that is obvious is that the teams that are the most formidable in the NBA are the teams with several ballhandlers,” said Daigneault.
As Oklahoma City continues to build their roster over the next few seasons around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, it’s fair to assume that they will target players who have a high basketball IQ and can play in multiple positions. This will allow them to throw a variety of different alignments on the floor depending on who they are facing.
As for the rebuilds, the Thunder is going to do it the right way. If there is one thing the front office has emphasized over the past year, it is that they are going to be patient and not take any shortcuts.
“We are not looking for short term solutions for a long term project,” Thunder chief executive Sam Presti said at a press conference last week.
Daigneault echoed this days later on media day, saying rebuilding won’t be easy, but shortcuts won’t be taken.
“There’s no shortcut, nothing is going to be easy and we don’t want it to be easy,” Daigneault said on media day.
Ultimately, Oklahoma City is looking for sustained, long-term success rather than a short stint in the playoff team. Especially in a small market, they have to build through drafting, trading and player development.
“There’s only one thing to winning in the NBA and it’s a championship,” Presti said during the offseason. “The longer you want to be good, the more patience it sometimes takes.”
The Thunder will be a championship contender again for the foreseeable future, but they’re going to do it the right way.