On Saturday evening, the Oklahoma City Thunder saw their 2023-24 season come to an end with a 117-116 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on the road in game 6 of their Western Conference semifinals series. The Thunder actually shot out to a 17-point second half lead in this one but ultimately relinquished a massive Dallas run down the stretch, led by Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and a late scoring surge from both Derrick Jones Jr. and PJ Washington, who hit the game-winning free throws with under three seconds remaining.

So begins a highly important offseason for a Thunder squad that is coming off of its best season since Kevin Durant left the franchise eight years ago.

The Thunder are of course led by point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished in second place in this year's NBA MVP voting behind only Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, but the superstar still knows that there's room for improvement this offseason if he wants to take the Thunder to new heights.

“You can be more efficient always. So I’ll work on efficiency. You can always be better defensively, on and off the ball. Just continuing to make sure my game doesn’t hinder the development of my teammates,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, per Brandon Rahbar of Daily Thunder on X, the social media platform formerly referred to as Twitter.

Gilgeous-Alexander also used a hilarious analogy to describe the youth of this Thunder squad, which at times showed up at bad moments during the loss to the Mavericks.

“Absolutely. Might’ve got younger. Elementary school kids,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, referencing a quote from last season when he referred to the Thunder as high school kids.

A successful season

Despite the heartbreak that fans are feeling right now, the Thunder overall had a wildly successful 2023-24 season compared to expectations coming in. After last season's Play-In game exit to the Minnesota Timberwolves, it wasn't unreasonable to expect the Thunder to take a leap and perhaps secure their first playoff spot since the 2020 Bubble in Orlando.

However, few if any could have seen a 57-win campaign, culminating in the number one seed in the Western Conference, in the cards. The Thunder made history this postseason by becoming the youngest team in NBA history to win a playoff series, doing so by dispatching the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round in sweep fashion to set up their series vs the Mavericks.

Gilgeous-Alexander also proved that he is more than capable of rising to the occasion in the postseason, as, while this wasn't his first playoff appearance, it was his first showing as the number one option on his team receiving the majority of the defensive attention. Gilgeous-Alexander really only had one or two “subpar” games out of the entirety of the Thunder playoff run.

In any case, with their roster so young and with so many options and trade assets at their disposal, the Thunder sure figure to be a mainstay in the Western Conference playoff picture and compete for championships for years to come (something that Thunder fans have unfortunately been promised before).