The Thunder continue a trend of NBA excellence

Shai Gilgieus-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center on January 12, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Thunder defeated the 76ers 133–114.
(Photo by Michel Leff / Getty Images)

At first glance, one might think that the Oklahoma City Thunder do not lead the NBA in any category in recent years.

They made one NBA Finals appearance in 2012, but other than that, they’ve experienced several disappointing playoff losses and a frustrating rebuilding process since the departure of Kevin Durant in 2016.

But this season, they went ahead by reaching the play-in tournament, and this was largely due to the excellent play of Shai Gilzeas-Alexander.

He was named to the All-NBA First Team on Wednesday, which came as somewhat of a surprise, but in doing so, he added to an astonishing tally of All-NBA totals for the Thunder.

Since moving from Seattle in 2008, the Thunder have had several major NBA stars including Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Chris Paul.

Durant had long been a fixture on All-NBA teams, especially during his time in Oklahoma City, as was Westbrook, who was named the regular-season MVP for the 2016–17 campaign.

After Durant left, George was traded to the Thunder in 2017, and was named to the All-NBA team in his two seasons with the team.

Following George’s surprise trade to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2019, Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets for Paul, who led Oklahoma City to a surprise playoff appearance in the 2019–20 season while making the All-NBA Second Team.

With Gilgeous-Alexander as well as Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, expected to return next season, not to mention a treasure trove of first-round draft choices acquired, the future is looking bright for the Thunder.

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