Tuesday, November 30 2021

Despite being less than two decades old, the Oklahoma City Thunder had a fair amount of representation in the much-anticipated release of the USA TODAY Top 75 NBA Players of All Time list.

Five former Thunder players and two former Seattle Supersonics were listed in this ranking to honor the upcoming 75th season of NBA basketball.

Russell Westbrook and James Harden ended up tied. Kevin Durant got into the top-15. Two other players who spent less time in OKC but are surefire Hall of Famers made the list. And Ray Allen and Gary Payton provided glory to Seattle.

Here are the seven players in franchise history to make the list.

No. 62: Carmelo Anthony (tie)

With 27,370 career points, Carmelo Anthony is 40 away from passing Moses Malone and 1,227 away from passing Shaquille O’Neal. If he supplants both, he would end his career as the eighth-leading scorer in NBA history.

From USA TODAY:

“Throughout his career, Anthony — another star of the 2003 draft class — was a bucket-getter.”

Ray Allen: 49

Entering this season, Ray Allen has made the most 3-pointers in NBA history. Over his 18 seasons, he made his 2,973 at a 40% clip. The most famous of all his shots helped save the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals and eventually win in seven.

From USA TODAY:

“Allen helped usher in this era of 3-point shooting and he is one of the best to shoot it from long range.”

No. 46: Gary Payton

Nobody made more All-NBA Defensive First Teams than Gary Payton. The Glove’s nine is tied for the most in history alongside Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Michael Jordan.

From USA TODAY:

“Payton certainly earned his reputation for trash talk during his 17-year career, but he had the game to back it up as one of the NBA’s great all-around point guards.”

No. 40 (tie) James Harden

His Oklahoma City stint was too short-lived. Harden blossomed from the league’s best Sixth Man into a perennial MVP candidate, changing the way the game is played and becoming one of the greatest scorers in the generation in the process.

From USA TODAY:

“Harden helped usher in the modern era of 3-point shooting, and now with Brooklyn, he enters his 13th season fifth all-time in 3s made with 2,445.”

No. 40 (tie) Russell Westbrook

The Brodie. The mark for most triple-doubles in a career no longer belongs to Oscar Robertson. Russell Westbrook made is so normal, we don’t even bat an eye about him averaging triple-doubles for entire seasons anymore.

From USA TODAY:

“Scoring, rebounding and passing at a Hall of Fame rate, Westbrook plays one way: all out.”

No. 38: Chris Paul

Elite on both ends of the court, Chris Paul made his mark on Oklahoma City with just one year on the team. USA TODAY put it best:

“Paul’s greatness is not measured by the number of NBA titles he has won (zero). Instead, it is measured in his fifth-place standing on the NBA’s all-time assists list (10,275). Or how he made the New Orleans Hornets (2005-11), Los Angeles Clippers (2011-17), Houston Rockets (2017-19), Oklahoma City Thunder (2019-20) and Phoenix Suns (2020-21) playoff contenders as soon as he joined them.”

Kevin Durant: 13

Even if Kevin Durant hadn’t come back strong from his torn Achilles, he would go down as one of the greatest players of all time. But he came back dominant and practically forced the Brooklyn Nets into the NBA Finals without his co-stars playing even close to full strength.

If he can win a title, he may achieve a distinction that he has been unable to receive consensus on despite ample room for argument: the best player in the league.

From USA TODAY:

“What could have been possible without Durant became inevitable with him. Durant led the Warriors to two NBA titles with two Finals MVP performances because of his mastered footwork, mid-range game and length.”

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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