HomeTexas Sports Betting NewsOklahoma City Thunder Championship Odds Held Down By Their Youth

Oklahoma City Thunder Championship Odds Held Down By Their Youth

Despite clinching the number one seed in the Western Conference and winning their first playoff game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still regarded as underdogs for this season's NBA title, a dark-horse contender if there ever was one. Normally, a team that finished with the best record in its conference couldn't be considered a dark horse, but this OKC squad is different.

Image: IMAGO / Xinhua

The Thunder dominated all season en route to the one seed, but they still have plenty of doubters. because this team has yet to prove its playoff mettle.

Aside from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort, OKC’s rotation has zero playoff experience, as they haven’t yet taken their lumps under the bright lights of the postseason, when every possession is crucial and every mistake gets dissected under a microscope.

The Thunder Have Succeeded in Spite Of Their Inexperience Thus Far

Not only is OKC green in terms of postseason experience, but they’re also incredibly young overall. With an average roster age of 23.9 years, the Thunder became the youngest team in NBA history to finish as the first seed in either conference. Oftentimes, veteran play and experience can be overrated in terms of predicting team success, but, if the Thunder were to disappoint in the playoffs, there’s little doubt that their youth would be a major reason why.

Even SGA, their MVP candidate and one of the few players on the roster with playoff experience, has never entered a postseason with the role he’s in now: as the clear number-one option on a true title contender. There’s never been a team this young and inexperienced that’s come away with a title.

Currently, FanDuel has the Thunder listed with the third-best odds to win the 2024 NBA championship at +1300. Vegas apparently believes that any team aside from the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets would be huge underdogs to win it all, as they were given odds of +120 and +340 for the title respectively.

Every stat and category has the Thunder either on par with the Nuggets or better. They may have not decimated teams the way the Celtics have all season, but they weren’t too far behind. OKC might not have the playoff experience that Boston does, but the Thunder don’t have the same playoff demons that Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the rest of the Cs have haunting them, either. And yet, purely due to their youth and inexperience, the Thunder are regarded as a tier below the Celtics and Nuggets as contenders.

Young Teams Have Won it All Before

HoopsHype recently conducted a study to see which were the youngest teams to win a title in recent NBA history. Rather than accounting for the sage veterans and newbies on the deep bench, they only took the average age of the top three players on each title team in the last 40 years.

Last year’s Nuggets, led by Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon, had an average of 27.5 years old, making them the fifth-youngest trio to win a title. The youngest triumvirate came from the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in 2015, with an average age of 25 years and 358 days.

The 2012 Thunder, who fell just short in the Finals against the Miami Heat, would have smashed the Dubs’ record had Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden finished the job at an average age of 23.4 years. Ultimately, though, the Heat’s experience trumped them.

Currently, this year’s Thunder has a top three consisting of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, and Chet Holmgren, with an average age of 23.6 years. Can they defy logic, Vegas, and NBA history to finish the job that their predecessors from a decade ago couldn’t?

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