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Consistency is a Lifestyle

Jackson McCarty

The Oklahoma City Thunder secured the number one seed in the Western Conference with their win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday and have officially solidified their place as a contender this year and for years to come. They are the youngest team in NBA history (23.9 years old) to not only secure the one seed but to have 55 wins in a season, who was the previous youngest team? The 2010-11 Thunder squad that was headlined by the young Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. 

The Thunder have taken the NBA world by shock as just 4 seasons ago they began their rebuild with a young potential star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a boatload of picks, fast forward to 2024 and they have had an average of 16.5 wins improvement over the past two seasons and have the favorite for MVP, Coach of the Year, and runner up for the Rookie of the Year. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has solidified himself as a star in this league leading the 2nd youngest team in the NBA to the #1 seed but that isn’t the only impressive feat he has accomplished in this astonishing season. Shai leads the league this year in not only steals but with 51 30+ games averaging 30.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 6.2 assists on a ridiculous 63.6% true shooting percentage. Shai has been the leader for this young Thunder squad and the main way he’s lead the way is by being consistent, showing up night in night out and creating winning plays whether it be him scoring, getting others involved, or playing great defense. 

The Thunder have found a brilliant brand of basketball to play and it feels like we have only seen small flashes of anything but that which is extremely impressive for such a young team. This brand can be partially credited to young head coach Mark Daigneault who was formally the head coach for the Thunder G-league team OKC Blue and was promoted to head coach in 2020 after the team parted ways with Billy Donovan.Daigneault’s squad is currently ranked 3rd in offensive rating, 4th in defensive rating, and 2nd in net rating; they also lead the league in 3 point percentage, steals, blocks, and are 2nd in true shooting percentage, overall a team playing efficient basketball at a high level. Daigneault and his staff have received a lot of praise this season for the job that they have done with this young squad, the largest recently coming from JJ Reddick and Lebron James on their new podcast Mind the Game, “Have you spent anytime with Mark Daigneault by the way,” asked Reddick “No,” James responded “Bro, he’s ridiculous, he’s so good” replied Reddick, “He’s on his sh*t,” James replied. Daigneault may win Coach of the Year but his future years with this Thunder squad is what most are truly excited for. 

The Thunder’s success has not just come from their illustrious superstar and head coach as they have potential stars in Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren and a boatload of depth with exceptional 3 and D players like Lu Dort, Cason Wallace, and Aaron Wiggins. They have shooters everywhere and depth halfway down their bench, and an important aspect is everyone seems to understand their role at an unprecedented level. Throughout this season the team has been consistent from their stars to their role players, as Shai put it in a post game interview, “My whole life is consistent, everything I do. From what I eat, to when I sleep, to my recovery, to my loved ones. Everything’s consistent,”

The Thunder await the winner of the 9/10 seed (Warriors and Kings) play-in game and the loser of the 7/8 seed (Pelicans and Lakers) play-in game to see who they host for the first home playoff game in Oklahoma City since 2020 on Sunday April 21st.