Thunder projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season

Chet Holmgren, Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Chet Holmgren, Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
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Josh Giddey (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Josh Giddey (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Oklahoma City Thunder starting shooting guard: Josh Giddey

Josh Giddey made impressive strides in his sophomore season. The Australian continued to drop dimes; he averaged 6.2 assists per game while forming the most arrhythmic ball-handling duo in the NBA with Gilgeous-Alexander. OKC’s backcourt is long, gangly, and always one step ahead of the competition mentally. Giddey’s sense of pace and ability to read the floor is special.

What made Giddey’s sophomore leap so impressive, however, was that it involved more than picking apart the defense with his passes. He also developed into a potent scorer, creating his own looks on drives to the cup and upping his 3-point percentage by almost six percentage points (26.3 to 32.5). He still has a ways to go with the jumper, but the mere threat of Giddey hitting spot-up 3s opens up opportunities for him to shred defenses as a driver.

The defensive end is the biggest swing area for Giddey as he looks to make the leap from quality starter to bonafide star. At 6-foot-8, he has the length to be disruptive in passing lanes but he’s rail-thin with limited lateral quickness. He’s most comfortable guarding threes and fours, but he’d do well to add core strength to better handle physical wings. OKC has players who can shoulder difficult perimeter assignments to better optimize Giddey.

Primary backup shooting guard: Isaiah Joe

OKC scooped up Isaiah Joe after the Sixers waived him to save tax dollars. Well, Joe immediately turned into a bankable rotation guard for a play-in team. He was one of the best volume shooters in the NBA, hitting 40.9 percent of his 5.4 three-point attempts in 19.1 minutes per game.

Here’s the thing: this was always the probable outcome for Joe, who was a flat-out nutty shooter in college at Arkansas. The Sixers’ complete disregard for him always felt like negligence. He’s even a better defender than he showed in college, always in the right position and competitive at the point of attack. Joe doesn’t create his own looks and he’s probably too skinny to be an elite defender, but he’s a top-shelf movement shooter who can hold his own on the other end. That’s the kind of player every contender needs.

Other players who could receive minutes at shooting guard: Victor Oladipo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Cason Wallace, Tre Mann

The Thunder very quietly reunited with Victor Oladipo over the summer. He’s a buyout candidate, but OKC isn’t exactly a bottom-feeder and the demand for Oladipo around the league probably isn’t very high. That said, he’s a good vet for a young locker room and he can still skate by defenders with a better-than-average first step. Maybe he’s a sneaky big rotation piece for Daigneault.