With the lockout going strong, some teams are looking to their past for articles. And since the Thunder have such an illustrious, well-known, and rich history, I figured I'd follow suit.
Here I'll state the case for the All-Time Greatest (Non-Current) Oklahoma City Thunder Players. The criteria is as follows:
Said player cannot be under the contract of the Thunder as of the end of last season.
Said player's skill level must be considered what it was at the time they played for the Thunder. So no pre-surgery Nenad Krstic or young Kevin Ollie.
Said player's natural position will be considered, not the position they were forced to play.
Said player must have been under contract of the Thunder at some point in time. He is not required to have played games.
The Supersonics history cannot be considered ours. At all.
And that's it! Without further ado, let's explore all of the great players the Thunder have left behind.
Honourable Mentions: Stephen Hill, Saer Sene, Robert Swift
Stephen Hill was some guy who had long hair and a headband. He sat on the bench for a few games in a suit, I think. And he looked like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Saer Sene was a holdover of some terrible, terrible GMing in Seattle. Apparently, if you block a few Belgians and average 4 points a game, some clueless GM will draft you. Robert Swift was another holdover of that era, and now plays in Japan while still rocking some insane tattoos.
3rd String: Johan Petro
The most memories I have of this guy were in the pre-season, where he blocked a few shots. He was also somewhat decent offensively. But his offensive IQ was worse than Serge Ibaka's, and he always looked really clumsy. Still, he was good enough to have actually seen significant time on the floor, so he gets the third string spot.
2nd String: Etan Thomas
Etan Thomas was probably once a decent center. With the Thunder he was merely serviceable, susceptible to whatever force came by. Unfortunately for him, after only 10 games or so, Serge Ibaka became the Thunder's newest sensation, and he was reduced to benchwarmer duties until the end of the season. He could make shots really close to the rim, block shots, and write poetry with Adonal Foyle. But he was too old to have any sort of upside, and his unpolished offensive game has no place on a playoff team. Still, he's miles ahead of all former Thunder centers sans Krstic.
Below: The Starting Center, and the Rest of the Lineup!
That comb-over sure hides a lot.
Starter: Nenad Krstic
He was soft. He didn't defend too well. He was never the first guy down the floor. And he was uglier than an unshaven Zydrunas Ilgauskas. But there's something I just can't help loving about Nenad Krstic. Maybe it's the rainbow arc with which his jumpshots went in. Maybe it's the way in which he routinely owned the centerless Sacramento Kings. Or maybe I just felt sorry for him, as everyone in the Ford Center seemingly wanted to kill him the second he missed a jumpshot. Regardless, he's easily the best Thunder center.
Honourable Mentions: Malik Rose
I'm pretty sure he retired after his last season in the NBA. He got traded to the Thunder from New York. I don't know how it feels to say goodbye to Broadway and hello to Broadway Extension, but apparently he hated Oklahoma City so much that he decided to use his Thunder legacy status in order to move to Dallas to do a studio show about the Thunder. I don't know how good it is, since I usually mute it for fear of hearing "If integrity were a celebrity" again. But, he was an okay forward, I suppose.
3rd String: Joe Smith
Fun Fact: Joe Smith is the only #1 Pick to have ever played for the Thunder. Other than that, there wasn't much notable about the ten billionth stop in the long, trade-riddled career of Joe Smith. He got re-united with former coach, P.J. Carlesimo, for 13 games. And he was almost traded for Tyson Chandler, until Chandler failed his physical, which result in Joe Smith being bought out and released later in the season. On the floor, he was a decent, if noticeably aged power forward who knew how to score reasonably well from a variety of spots. He started three games at center, but fell out of favour as Krstic entered the fold. So that's good enough to put him above Malik Rose.
2nd String: Chris Wilcox
It's kinda of tough deciding who to start on this team at the power forward spot. Both Chris Wilcox and D.J. White had their moments, but both were also tragically flawed. D.J. White's only real amazing trait was that he could hit about a thousand mid-range jumpers without missing, but he didn't bring too much else to the table. Chris Wilcox, on the other hand, has a variety of offensive moves. The only downside is that he pretty much doesn't play defense, and looks allergic to his opponents in the paint. Since post offense from a big man is so rare these days, Chris Wilcox manages to stay in the NBA, and even starts for the mess that is the Detroit Pistons. But at the end of the day, I'd rather have....
Anyone miss these retro uniforms?
Starter: D.J. White
D.J. White. Out of all the moves the Thunder have made, I think this one is the only one we might regret, even if it's only just a smidgen of regret. D.J. was always buried on the bench, stuck behind Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka because he brought what the Thunder already had to the table. But then we made a couple of moves for largely defensive players, and we traded away all three of our primary mid-range scorers in the deal. Honestly, if we had kept D.J. White, he might have provided the offensive punch when we needed it most. But, it's all water under the bridge, I suppose.
Honourable Mentions: The Contracts of Matt Harpring and Donyell Marshall
Yes, these guys were on our roster in the twilight of their careers. But they mainly functioned as salary dumps for other teams who had spent unwisely. By the time Matt Harpring had been traded to the Thunder, he was recovering from an injury and already essentially retired, and Donyell Marshall was struggling to get time on the thinly manned LeBron Era Cavaliers. So much so that he forgot his warmup jersey and actual jersey were two separate things. Regardless, they were good players in their time, but borderline useless during their "stints" with the Thunder.
3rd String: Ryan Bowen
Ryan Bowen is a classic example of some OKC fans thinking "Hay, this guy played for the Hornets, he must be really good!" Unfortunately, he wasn't that good. Ryan Bowen is pretty much borderline average, and really only served to look out of place in the team picture that year, before he was cut less than a month into the season.
2nd String: Desmond Mason
We all know Desmond Mason. He didn't mean a whole lot on the floor, as he played in our worst of seasons and was out of place at Shooting Guard. But he was kind of a bridge between the old Hornets era and this one. During the early part of the Thunder's tenure, fans weren't all that excited. The team had an abysmal start, and the team's stars weren't as amiable as Chris Paul was. But when Desmond Mason arrived mid-season, it gave us an injection of nostalgia, helped us to accept our new team, and gave us a few wins late in the season. But by this point in his career, Mason had lost his explosive athleticism, and his main asset was his excellent hustle. He couldn't shoot, and his defense wasn't remarkable. Essentially, he was fun to watch, but nowhere close to the top of this list.
I'm supposed to teach you how to use Notepad....but it looks like you already know how!
Starter: Jeff Green
The biggest no-brainer in this entire ordeal. Jeff Green, while being an offensive conundrum, is miles ahead of any other player the Thunder has left by the wayside. The problem with him is that he wants to function as the main cog of an offense. He's really bad at adjusting to being a second or third banana, and if plays aren't set up for him, he's not going to do anything. But in order for a team to be successful, you've got to have a better scorer than Jeff Green. And thus, you arrive at this problem.
Honourable Mentions: Antonio Anderson
He was a D-League Call Up in the 2009-2010 season to show how "committed" we were to the Tulsa 66ers. Apparently he played in one game, but the only memory I have of him is when he passed me the ball during a season ticket member party. Yes, I am one of the few people to have received a pass from the great Antonio Anderson! I'll be taking autographs at the Waffle House.
3rd String: Damien Wilkins
Apparently this guy appeared in the USFleetTracking Pro Basketball Invitational. Apparently, he still plays for the Atlanta Hawks. And apparently, he was supposed to be an excellent scorer, in the vein of his Uncle, Dominique. But the truth is, he's just a barely tolerable shooter. Some nights, he'll give you good production, and other nights, he'll have you kicking yourself for even thinking he was good. And I honestly don't know who thought he was a good dunker, because I can't remember seeing him dunk once.
2nd String: Chucky Atkins
Chucky Atkins will mostly be known as the shortest shooting guard in the history of the Thunder. Okay, so he's technically a point guard, but we all know he was meant to be a shooting guard. Because all he did was chuck up a bunch of threes. He should be useful for this hypothetical team as scoring off of the bench.
What's going on back there?! I can't see!
Starter: Kyle Weaver
But Kyle Weaver is miles ahead of Chucky Atkins. He was the Thabo Sefolosha before Thabo Sefolosha, but when Thabo Sefolosha arrived we didn't need two Thabo Sefoloshas, so we had to cut one of our Thabo Sefoloshas, and that Thabo Sefoslosha happened to be Kyle Weaver. But you've got to give this guy props. He arrived as almost an afterthought of a second round draft pick, worked to make the roster, got significant minutes and even started some games. He showed the hustle that you love to see from a player, and had some definite advantages in his game. He spent time with Utah and in the D-League after his stint with the Thunder, and currently balls for ALBA Berlin.
Honourable Mentions: Mike Wilks
Mike Wilks was a mid-season replacement at a time when Kevin Ollie was injured and Eric Maynor hadn't come onto the scene yet. I don't remember much about his tenure, other than the fact that he was really short and not very useful. But, it was, so far, the last stop of his NBA career.
3rd String: Shaun Livingston
Shaun Livingston, at one point, felt like the feel-good story of the Oklahoma City Thunder. People were psyched about the potential the 6'7" point guard brought to the table, mystified by the fact that he was pretty good before downed by a horrific knee injury. But while he was still good enough to be in the NBA, it still didn't take away from the fact that he played with a bionic knee and lost the explosiveness he once had. Okay player, but from a strategic standpoint, we won't miss him.
2nd String: Kevin Ollie
If you looked up "no impact whatsoever" in the dictionary, you would probably just find "no", because the dictionary only includes single words. Nevertheless, in the imaginary encyclopedia of basketball, Kevin Ollie's picture would be featured prominently in the "no impact whatsoever" article. Not because he was a bad player, mind you. He just wasn't a good one, either. I have a lot of memories of Kevin Ollie, but none of them are overly amazing. He played adequate defense. He made adequate passes. Occasionally, he'd even shoot, but only adequate mid-range jumpers. In fact, even though I've been an NBA fan nearly my entire sentient life, I had never heard of Kevin Ollie before he came to the Thunder. Because there's just nothing that sticks out about the guy. Except, of course, for his magnificent two-dimensional mustache. He was replaced once we traded for Eric Maynor, and retired after the season.
Are you ready to SLAM 'n' JAM?!
Starter: Earl Watson
Earl Watson once started for the Thunder. And there was actually a debate as to whether we should start Russell Westbrook. Hah! Reminds me of when Phil Jackson didn't want to start Kobe Bryant over Rick Fox. Just a downright silly situation. Earl Watson is a good NBA player, and has even gotten good time playing for the Pacers and Jazz after he left the Thunder. But he was the last remnant of a Seattle team in transition, and wanted time as a starter, not sitting on the bench behind a rookie.
Coach: P.J. Carlesimo
Okay, so he was our only other head coach. But he made for the most hilarious pictures of any NBA coach ever. The loss of those pictures is something I'll never recover from as a blogger, so that's why his picture is featured with this article.
It was interesting to look through this list. The Thunder may not have the longest history, but they certainly do have an interesting one, even when not considering the move to Oklahoma City. Players that have come to the Thunder range from draft busts to comeback seekers, and even include a few veterans in the twilight of their career and good players who just didn't work out. But the one thing that sticks out to me about this list is that if you assembled a team from these players, they would outright stink. Krstic/White/Green/Weaver/Watson might make for a lot of Ws, but it also makes a whole lot more Ls. Green isn't good enough to be the leading scorer on a successful NBA team, and we would lack some serious defense down low. In a way, it's indicative of the problems that plagued the Thunder for years.
But it's always fun to look back at that history. The bad coaching, the mismanaged lineups, the frequent injuries, the terrible in-arena and on TV presentation, the wacky players, the painful losses, and the occasional triumphs. It almost makes you fall in love with the Thunder all over again....oh wait.
Would you have ordered the players differently? Have any fond memories of these players? Post a comment!