Depending on who you ask, the Thunder’s season was either amazing or a major disappointment. After a 5-game exit in the first round against the Houston Rockets, the team looks to build upon their 47-win season through this summer’s free agency. Today, we look at a few of their possible options going into the 2018 season, specifically a reach target, a solid goal, and a safety to fall back on.
1) (Quite A Reach) Gordon Hayward, SF
The Good: Hayward seems like a perfect fit for the Thunder. He may be on the hunt for a new team after getting swept by the Warriors. He is coming off a career-high 21.9 points per game and has yet to reach his prime. He would provide the Thunder with a much-needed second scoring option behind superstar Russell Westbrook. More importantly, Hayward shot almost 40% from three-point land this year. His court spacing could prove invaluable compared to the paint clogging the Thunder currently face when playing Andre Roberson.
The Bad: Hayward is most likely going to demand max-money on the open market. Oklahoma simply does not have the cap room needed to sign him, especially if Westbrook signs an extension. Hayward has also spent his entire career as the face of the franchise in Utah, and he may not want to play second fiddle behind Westbrook in Oklahoma City.
Verdict: Hayward would be a great addition to the Thunder, but the odds are that he either stays in Utah or goes somewhere in the East to get swept by LeBron James.
2) (Lofty Goal) Blake Griffin, PF
The Good: Is anybody else drooling over the idea of Russ-Blake pick-and-rolls? The duo could easily become one of the most explosive tandems the NBA has ever seen. Similar to Hayward, Blake Griffin could help the Thunder’s scoring woes with his 21.4 points per game and add a big man presence with 9.4 rebounds per game. Griffin grew up in Oklahoma, and there have been whispers (namely from former teammate Glen Davis) that he wants to come play for his home team. When healthy, Blake is a force to be reckoned with, as his offensive game has evolved beyond poster dunks to include a midrange jumper and even some playmaking ability.
The Bad: Also similar to Hayward, Griffin could cost a lot of money. While he may be willing to take a slight hometown discount, the Thunder may be unable to reach an agreement with the Clippers big man. Blake has only played under the bright lights of Los Angeles, and he may be hesitant to join the small-market franchise of Oklahoma City. The Thunder must also determine if Blake’s health is too much of a concern for them.
Verdict: While Blake joining the Thunder isn’t impossible, it isn’t necessarily a sure bet either. Thunder fans should be excited at the idea, but not get their hopes too high.
3. (Fall-back Option) Langston Galloway, PG
The Good: For what seems like forever now, the Thunder have needed a solid backup point guard behind their star. Norris Cole and Semaj Christon simply aren’t cutting it. At first glance, Langston Galloway doesn’t seem like a much better option, averaging less than 10 points per game this season. But he’s only 3 seasons removed from averaging 11.8 points per game playing next to Carmelo Anthony’s million shots per game. Galloway also shot a blistering 47.5% from 3 this season, and his per-36 minute stats have him easily averaging more than 10 points a game. Galloway isn’t the defensive liability that Cole is, and his offense is lightyears ahead of the pass-first Christon. Langston would come cheap.
The Bad: Galloway is a risk because of his inconsistency throughout his career. However, this risk is minimized because he will come at a very cheap price tag.
Verdict: Galloway is a low-risk, high-reward investment. If he chooses to leave New Orleans, the Thunder should have no trouble convincing him to commandeer their second unit.