(P/C: Sue Ogroki – AP)
After a fairly disappointing season where Paul George and Russell Westbrook were expected to lead the Thunder deep in the playoffs; a 49-33 season with a first-round exit by means of Damian Lillard (you know what I’m talking about) struck the citizens of Oklahoma quite hard.
To make matters worse, both PG and Russ left for new homes, and the Thunder then faced a serious question: will they be the league’s laughing stock?
Enter Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul, both a young star and a veteran, who have led the Thunder to a 30-20 start, good for the 7th seed in the West. The 34-year-old and 21 year old have been putting on quite the show this season, and in my opinion, have heavily gone under the radar as one of the better backcourts in the League as of now. Shai has contributed a whopping 19.4 PPG this season compared to a low number during his tenure with the Clippers, while CP3 has dished out around 7 dimes per game and 17 PPG.
But let’s focus on SGA here, as he is the one who has taken the NBA by storm. Hailing from Toronto, the young Canadian has shown out against the league’s best and creates several opportunities for his teammates. While contributing on offense, he adds to his game with his defensive abilities, and I’m sure all of us will get a taste of his style in the NBA Rising Stars game. I don’t want to bombard this commentary with stats, but Shai’s play is a masterpiece to watch, so look out for him in the future going forward,
Not only have Shai and Paul contributed to the Thunder’s silent success, but several guys on the squad have played certain roles that have gotten the Thunder to a great spot. Danilo Gallinari has always been a solid player wherever he goes, and for the Thunder this season he has been great from 3 as well as a big man. And while Steven Adams continues to be the Steven Adams we all know, Dennis Schröder has been making quite the case for 6th man of the year with 19/4/4 this season.
What’s the best part about all of this? As a Thunder fan myself, it is comforting to know the squad is heading in the right direction, especially considering the plethora of draft picks they have in the future. Watch out for a great rebuild in the Midwest.
Also, check out this article by Business Insider on their take on OKC here.