Oklahoma City Thunder: Could the play-in be within reach?

Oklahoma City Thunder

Luguentz Dort #5, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 and Kenrich Williams #34 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrate a score and the lead after a timeout during a 107-104 Oklahoma City Thunder win over the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Going into this NBA season, the Oklahoma City Thunder were widely expected to be the worst team in the league by far. They are in the middle of a big-time rebuild and have gutted their entire roster.

However, after a very shaky start, things seem to be trending upwards in OKC. In fact, there’s a small chance they could end up competing for a play-in spot.

As crazy as that sounds, the Thunder are actually the tenth seed in the Western Conference right now. If the play-in started today, they would be a part of it.

Could the Oklahoma City Thunder reach the play-in tournament this season?

They are on a four-game winning streak right now and have won five of their last seven games. Some of those wins have come against solid opponents, too.

The Thunder have picked up two wins against the Lakers already this year. While the rest of their wins are against subpar opponents, the fact that they beat those opponents at all is still impressive.

Their other wins have come against the Kings, Spurs, and Pelicans, all of whom are below .500 right now. That being said, almost everyone would have argued that the Thunder would have been worse than all of them at the start of the year.

Shai Gilegeous Alexander has been leading the way on the current four-game winning streak, averaging 22.0 points per game. Lu Dort has also been putting up 19.8 points during the stretch.

They have also been the second-best defensive team over that stretch in terms of defensive rating (100.3). Only the Washington Wizards have had a better defense than them.

Virtually no one expected this team to develop this quickly, but here we are. The best part about it is that they will have a bunch of draft picks regardless of how good they are.

They actually owe their draft pick this season to the Atlanta Hawks, but it is top-14 protected. They own protected picks from the Suns (top-12 protected) and Pistons (top-16 protected), as well as the Clippers’ unprotected first.

Oklahoma City Thunder fans should be ecstatic with how good this team looks. Not only are Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort looking great, but players such as Darius Bazley, Tre Mann, and Josh Giddey look impressive as well.

While the play-in might seem like a lofty goal, nothing is impossible in the NBA. Maybe the Thunder could be getting some playoff experience earlier than they thought.