The Oklahoma City Thunder’s lengthy rebuild has continued into the 2022-23 season, and has resulted in them once again being one of the worst teams in the NBA. Despite that, this season has had a much different feel to it, as the Thunder have remained competitive despite having a sub .500 record, which is an extremely encouraging sign as their rebuild continues to churn forward.
With a 12-18 record, the Thunder aren’t totally out of the playoff hunt yet, but it doesn’t seem very likely they have much of a shot considering they are already the 13th seed in the Western Conference. Still, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has turned into a star this season, and when you are led by a player of his caliber, that instantly makes your team much more dangerous.
While the Thunder likely aren’t going to make any noise this season, they still have a good opportunity to improve their rebuilding efforts throughout the season, with the easiest avenue being through the trade market. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at a couple of very early predictions for the Thunder’s trade deadline activity and see why these moves could end up being made.
2. Trade away Mike Muscala
Many of the players on the Thunder’s roster are young players who are working on reaching their potential in the NBA. The lone exception is Mike Muscala, who is a 31-year old veteran that sticks out like a sore thumb on Oklahoma City’s roster. Muscala doesn’t have much of a place on the Thunder’s roster, but that’s not true for every team in the league.
Muscala is a bench center who is pretty much the textbook definition of a stretch big. Muscala can space the floor from the center position, but that doesn’t mean much to a Thunder team that is looking to give their young players as many minutes as they can. For Muscala, that has led to a pretty limited role with the team in the 2022-23 season.
Granted, Muscala hasn’t looked great when he’s been on the court this season (5.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.9 APG, 43.9 FG%, 31.5 3P%) but it’s clear he could have value for a team looking for an offensive-minded big man. Muscala has typically hit around 37 percent of his threes throughout his career, and it is worth noting he shot 42.9 percent on his threes just last season.
Muscala simply has no value for the Thunder right now, which is why moving him feels like a smart idea at the trade deadline. There are teams that certainly value his traits, and while he may not exactly be a key piece of a championship team, he could offer a contender an offensive spark when he’s used. The return wouldn’t be much, but the Thunder will take anything they can in their rebuilding efforts at this point.
1. Swing a deal for Saddiq Bey
Of course, the Thunder could also be looking to add some talent at the trade deadline, as they are going to have to turn their trade assets into NBA-caliber at some point in the future. That’s why Saddiq Bey of the Detroit Pistons has emerged as such an interesting trade target for them at this point in the season.
Bey has proven early in his career that he has the potential to be an offensive force in this league. He has struggled with his efficiency from the field throughout his young career, but that’s a luxury he hasn’t had to worry too much about playing on some pretty awful Pistons teams. And with Detroit potentially exploring a trade for Bey, the Thunder could snatch up this opportunity to land another young player to join their club.
Bey isn’t having a great season with the Pistons (14.2 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 40.6 FG%, 29.7 3P%) but he has had his role cut down a bit, which hasn’t helped. Bey shot 38 percent from behind the arc in his rookie season, so there’s hope he could reach those heights again in a better situation, and he’s also been an OK defender at the wing position, which isn’t something that can be overlooked here either.
Bey fits the Thunder’s timeline, as he’s only 23 years old, and has a lot of room to grow if he can find himself in the right situation. Playing alongside a star in Gilgeous-Alexander could be just what he needs to improve, and you can never really have enough strong wing players in the NBA nowadays. Bey is still a bit raw, but the Thunder as a whole are raw, and they could likely take a flier on him at the trade deadline if they wanted to.