3 reasons to be excited about the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2022-23 season

Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma City Thunder Season Preview

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Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder may not be ready to chase a playoff spot just yet. But a dominant preseason offers plenty of reasons for optimism.

For a minute, it looked like this might be the year the Oklahoma City Thunder rebuild turned the corner. Chet Holmgren went beast mode in Summer League several young players looked ready to take another step forward and competitiveness appeared to be on the horizon.

Then Holmgren went out for the season with a fractured foot, it was announced Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would miss the start of the season and the shadow of Victor Wembanyama began to loom over another season of potential tanking.

But the Oklahoma City Thunder are also 5-1 in the preseason, walloping opponents by an average of 18.1 points per 100 possessions. Several of those young players look even more ready for prime time and there are plenty of reasons to be excited about watching the Thunder this season, even if they aren’t ready to chase a playoff spot just yet.

3. Tre Mann is actually making his 3-pointers for the Oklahoma City Thunder

Mann started 26 games a rookie for the Thunder and put up some decent numbers as a score-first guard — 16.5 points and 2.4 assists per 36 minutes. However, his 3-point shooting was closer to average than elite (36.0 percent) and he really struggled inside the arc. Mann shot just 42.2 percent on drives with more turnovers (29) than assists (21) or fouls drawn (16). His pull-up mid-range game was respectable and there is real three-level scoring potential in his game but he has to be better beyond the arc and around the basket.

So far this preseason, Mann has been absolutely lights out from beyond the arc, hitting an eye-popping 19-of-36 (52.8 percent) and looking much more under control shooting off the dribble. Just as importantly, he’s 9-of-18 inside of 10 feet of the basket and six of those makes were unassisted.

The Thunder lineup desperately needs outside shooting and Mann looks ready to provide it this year, along with a burgeoning self-creation game.

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