The Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the surprise teams during the 2022-23 NBA season, as they came within a couple wins of claiming a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was fantastic and this roster showed a lot of promise. Entering the 2023-24 season, they will be looking to build off of last season's success, but they will have to do so without Aleksej Pokusevski.
On Wednesday, the team announced that Pokusevski sustained a right ankle sprain during an offseason workout in Oklahoma City. As a result, he will be re-evaluated in approximately six weeks, putting him on the sidelines for the start of training camp.
Even though he could resume activities before or after this six-week window laid out by the team, he is expected to be out for the entirety of the preseason for the Thunder. Pokusevski is also unlikely to be available for the first few weeks of the regular season.
This is a big season for Pokusevski, as he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Thunder did not look to offer him a contract extension in the offseason, meaning he will need to prove himself over the course of the 82-game season in order to remain with the team.
Injuries have derailed the Serbian forward's potential through the years, as he played in just 45 games during the 2020-21 season, as well as 34 games this past year. Even this offseason, Pokusevski has had to deal with rehabbing an injury. Back in June, he suffered a small fracture in his upper right arm during a workout.
Set to turn 22 years old in December, the Thunder big man still holds a solid amount of potential given his size and shooting abilities. In a total of 140 career games in Oklahoma City, Pokusevski has averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 30.1 percent from three-point range. His 36.5 three-point shooting percentage during the 2022-23 season was the highest of his career.
With Poku set to be on the sideline to begin the year, the Thunder will likely turn to Davis Bertans, Ousmane Dieng and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl at the forward positions. Chet Holmgren is preparing to make his debut with the team to begin the new season, so more minutes will likely be allocated his way as well.
Pokusevski will once again have to try and battle his way back from an injury with the Thunder.