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Friday, September 29, 2023

14 Best Players In Oklahoma City Thunder Franchise History

The Oklahoma City Thunder is by far one of the youngest teams in the NBA. The team was moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008 and quickly found success with the young core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. The trio had a lot of success and even made it to the 2012 NBA Finals.



RELATED: 10 Best Players In Toronto Raptors History

Over the last decade, all three men have left the team to pursue championships. They’re now led by future stars of the league like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren, and others. It’s time to look back at the short history of the Oklahoma City Thunder and see the best players to step on the court for them.


With the Oklahoma City Thunder replacing what used to be the Seattle SuperSonics, most fans typically combine their history similar to how the NBA themselves do. Looking back on both franchise’s history makes the line-up of players much greater. Names like Shawn Kemp or Ray Allen were left out due to never being a part of the Thunder rendition of the team but were fantastic players for the SuperSonics. So let’s give Seattle the respect they deserve for having a roster of pretty great players and include them into the best Thunder/SuperSonics players of all time.

14 Nick Collison

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While this is a weird choice if you don’t follow the Oklahoma City Thunder, most teams would be lucky to have a Nick Collison on their roster. Nicknamed “Mr. Thunder”, he came with the team from Seattle and was a huge part of getting fans and players on board with the move.

Collison wasn’t a starter past his first two seasons in Oklahoma City, but he remained a valuable bench player, and even coach for the team until his retirement in 2018. His number was quickly retired, and he’s also stayed on the team as an assistant.

13 Chris Paul

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Paul’s tenure in Oklahoma City only lasted for a single season, but it was an important one. He came into the Thunder as many considered that his prime was ending and that the squad would be one of the worst in the league.

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Instead, Paul gave a jump start to the Thunder’s rebuild and helped them become one of the best teams in the West, and make the playoffs. Although he only played for the team for a year, his impact on the franchise was massive.

12 Paul George

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Paul George was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017, and the hope was that he, alongside Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook, would emerge as a contender. For two seasons, the power forward was a top player in the league and led the team to the playoffs twice.

Sadly, George was a massive disappointment in the postseason both years and demanded a trade following the 2019 season to the Los Angeles Clippers. The stint wasn’t great on all ends, but he still played fantastically for the better part of his two seasons in a Thunder uniform.

11 Lenny Wilkens

Image by Joe Nicholson via USA TODAY Sports

Lenny Wilkens is one of the few names to have his number retired by the SuperSonics. His accolades range from helping Seattle capture their only NBA Championship while serving as the head coach for the team.

Wilkens has been credited as one of the best coaches of all time and when he was traded off the SuperSonics his team fell to a 26-56 record without him. Wilkens was a master at both as he played on the court while being the coach putting up records like 22.4 points and 8.2 assists per game.

10 Jack Sikma

Image by Malcolm Emmons via USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle SuperSonics only ever captured one NBA Championship during the franchise’s history. A main player for that reason was Jack Sikma who helped the team secure a 52-30 record going into the playoffs.

Sikma was pretty young into his career when the SuperSonics won the title as Sikma was drafted by the team only two years prior. Outside of his time as a player, Sikma later became the assistant coach for the SuperSonics from 2003-2007.

9 Steven Adams

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Adams was one of the most important players on the Oklahoma City Thunder for nearly a decade. From 2013 to 2021, he was a great defensive center and was a key player in the team’s deep playoff runs.

Adams’s numbers don’t jump off the screen, but he was still an impactful player and a great teammate in the locker room. Thanks to his time spent in a Thunder uniform, he’s one of the most important players in the team’s short history.

8 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s time in a Thunder uniform has been brief, as he just headed to Oklahoma City in 2019. However, it’s been an important tenure, as the shooting guard has already cemented himself as one of the greatest players in franchise history.

Gilgeous-Alexander has made it clear that he’s in Oklahoma City for the long haul, and has helped massively with the rebuild. When he gets some help around him, expect the young star to make some deep playoff runs in the future.

RELATED: 15 Great NBA Players Who Never Won A Championship

7 Kendrick Perkins

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets

© Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Kendrick Perkins’ has become mostly a joke thanks to his post-playing career takes. However, the big man still holds an important place in the history of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Perkins headed to the team in 2010, just after winning a championship with the Boston Celtics.

He quickly became a leader and established veteran on a team that was full of young stars. Like Steven Adams, Perkins’ numbers don’t jump off the page, but you can’t judge a player’s impact on a stat sheet.

6 Serge Ibaka

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

These days, Serge Ibaka has emerged as a talented big man and former NBA champion, as well as a force on the defensive side of the ball. Most of that success came in Oklahoma City, where he honed his craft.

Ibaka started his career in Oklahoma City and spent seven seasons with the team. His efforts helped the team go on several deep playoff runs, and become one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

5 James Harden

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers

© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden’s time in an Oklahoma City Thunder was brief but very memorable. He was drafted by the team in 2009 and quickly formed a big three alongside fellow young stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

The trio even made the 2012 NBA Finals but came up short against the Miami Heat. Following the season, Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets in a cost-cutting move, and one of the worst trades in NBA history.

4 Spencer Haywood

Image by Manny Rubio via USA TODAY Sports

Spencer Haywood wasn’t just a great asset for the SuperSonics but all of the NBA as he was the prime focus of the Haywood v. National Basketball Association antitrust suit. His career saw him become 4x All-Star and champion in 1980 alongside the Los Angeles Lakers.

All four of his All-Star appearances came under the SuperSonics team where he was having amazing seasons with records like 29.2 points per game and 13.4 rebounds. His no. 24 jersey was retired with the SuperSonics in 2007.

3 Gary Payton

Image via USA TODAY Sports

Gary Payton got drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics as the 2nd overall pick in the 1990 draft going after Derrick Coleman. Hindsight would show that Payton was the better pick and became a 9x All-Star with a majority of those coming from his time as a SuperSonic.

His time on the SuperSonics saw him capture the franchise records for assists and steals. Payton was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

2 Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant OKC
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Two things can be true at the same time. Kevin Durant is the most hated player in the history of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Kevin Durant is one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise.

RELATED: 10 Best Players In Brooklyn Nets History

Durant first arrived with the team in 2008 and quickly became one of the best players in the league. While he had a lot of success with the Thunder until his 2016 departure to the Golden State Warriors, he’s still not liked in Oklahoma.

1 Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City in 2016, Russell Westbrook could’ve joined him. Instead, he doubled down and gave Thunder fans some of the most entertaining few seasons of basketball they’ve ever seen. Despite many feeling that the team would fall apart, the team made the playoffs for the first three seasons after Durant’s departure.

During that stretch, Westbrook even won an MVP, before ultimately leaving in 2019. While he left, it wasn’t on good terms, and he’s still beloved in Oklahoma City.

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