By: Nick Andre
The official rebuild season began Monday afternoon when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded 35-year-old Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns in a mega trade. Paul provided a huge spark for OKC this past year, averaging 17.6 points per game and 6.7 assists. Even though the Paul era in OKC was shortly lived, there were a few assets from the Suns that the team can work with for years to come.
Kelly Oubre: Oubre was the obvious choice for Phoenix to give up in order to bring in the veteran point guard. He continues to evolve as a player and can become a huge contributor in the OKC rebuild. Oubre averaged 18.7 points per game on 45% from the field. Oubre’s high flying activity on both ends could be a huge part for OKC going forward. As long as he continues to play at a high level, it means good things for the Thunder.
Ricky Rubio: As you look through the NBA, it seems as if nobody wants Ricky Rubio on their roster. It’s insane to forget the impact Rubio had on the roster last year, particularly in the bubble. Rubio averaged 13 points per game on 41% shooting. He may not be the go-to guy for a roster, but Rubio has shown to be a key-value when the time is right. It’s unsure if the Thunder will go long term with Rubio. But if they decide they want to keep him around, then he’ll use his experience to help the rest of the team.
Other pieces: The Thunder were also able to grab young players in Jalen Lecque and Ty Jerome. Both players seemed to have had limited opportunities in their first season in the NBA. But with the Thunder in full rebuild mode, they will be able to showcase their talent in the rotation.
It is also nice to grab a first-round pick in 2022 as well! This pick allows OKC to have 17 first-round picks for the next seven years as they gear up for the future of the franchise. It will be unlikely if the team ever trade those picks away. Thunder GM Sam Presti will make the effort to bring in solid, all-around players who can continue to win.
If I had to grade this trade from OKC, I’d give it an A. It was time for Chris Paul to depart after one season with the organization. But rebuilding is the best way for the Thunder to gear up to become a dynasty in the making. The Thunder may be looking into the next five years, but don’t be surprised if this team will be in the hunt fighting for a playoff spot every season.