10 Greatest Oklahoma City Thunder Players of All Time

The Oklahoma City Thunder, once the Seattle Super Sonics (and eventually just the Sonics), have had a lot of great players participate in the franchise at one point or another. It’s somewhat amazing, despite several trips to the NBA Finals, that they haven’t won a championship since all the way back in 1979 — nearly 40 years. In the interest in looking back at the careers of former players, let’s count down the 10 best players in Oklahoma City/Seattle history, ordered according to Value Over Replacement Player (VORP).

10. Ray Allen

NBA: 10 Greatest Seattle Super Sonics and Oklahoma City Thunder
Ray Allen takes a breather | Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Back at the trade deadline in 2003, the Sonics made a major deal that shook up their franchise. They traded Gary Payton and Desmond Mason to the Milwaukee Bucks in return for Ray Allen and Ronald Murray. Allen only played in parts of five seasons in Seattle before moving on in a deal that landed him in Boston just prior to the 200708 season, when he teamed up with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to win the NBA championship. But Allen was excellent in his stop with the Sonics, averaging 24.6 points and 39.4 minutes per game.

9. Detlef Schrempf

AUBURN HILLS, UNITED STATES: The Seattle SuperSonics' Detlef Schremf (L) drives past the Detroit Pistons' Theo Ratliff (R) in the first quarter 05 December at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Detlef Schremf (L) drives past the Detroit Pistons’ Theo Ratliff (R) | Matt CampbellL/AFP/Getty Images

Detlef Schrempf came over to the Sonics from the Indiana Pacers in a trade just prior to the start of the 1993–94 season. The 6-foot-9 small forward fit in well with the uptempo pace of the Sonics and head coach George Karl, averaging 16.6 points per game and shooting 41.4% on three-pointers in six seasons in Seattle, making the Western Conference All-Star team twice. He helped lead the Sonics to the 1995–96 NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls, but lost in six games.

8. Gus Williams

RYE BROOK, NY - MARCH 24: NBA Champion Gus Williams attends the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon 100th Anniversary Gala at the Rye Town Hilton on March 24, 2012 in Rye Brook, New York. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)
NBA Champion and former Sonic Gus Williams attends the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon 100th Anniversary Gala | Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

One of the biggest parts of the last NBA champion in franchise history, Gus Williams joined the Sonics in the offseason after the 1977 season. He was an excellent scoring point guard, averaging 20.3 points with 6.0 assists per game in his six-year tenure with the Sonics. In the 1979 postseason, he averaged 26.7 points per game in leading the Sonics to glory. However, his time with the team did have a blemish, as he missed an entire season in 1980–81 due to a contract dispute.

7. Shawn Kemp

NBA: 10 Greatest Seattle Super Sonics and Oklahoma City Thunder
Shawn Kemp posts up against Hakeem | Pete Levine/AFP/Getty Images

The best seasons of Shawn Kemp’s career came from 1993–97, with the big man making five consecutive All-Star teams in a Sonics uniform. He was the second best player on the team during that run to the 1996 NBA Finals, and held averages of 16.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game during his eight seasons in Seattle. He was dealt in a three-team deal to the Cleveland Cavaliers just prior to the 1997–98 season, and unfortunately saw his skills — and conditioning — decline heavily by the time he was 31 years old.

6. Gary Payton

NBA: 10 Greatest Seattle Super Sonics and Oklahoma City Thunder
Gary Payton of the Seattle Sonics looks to pass | Getty Images

The ultimate star in franchise history, “The Glove” was known as a furious trash talker, strong-willed defender, and a winner. He played in 13 seasons with the Sonics, averaging 18.2 points and 7.4 assists in 36.9 minutes per game. He was the brightest star on the 1996 NBA Finals team, leading the NBA that season with 2.9 steals per game and winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. Payton returned to the NBA Finals as a Los Angeles Laker in 2004, losing to the Detroit Pistons, and then again with the Miami Heat in 2006 — when he finally collected his only ring as an NBA player. But despite that, Payton will always be remembered as a Seattle Sonic.

5. Rashard Lewis

Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics congratulates Rashard Lewis #9 of the Orlando Magic after Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on May 17, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orlando Magic defeated the Boston Celtics 101-82 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals | Elsa/Getty Images
Two Former Sonics reunited in the playoffs: Ray Allen congratulates Rashard Lewis after Game Seven of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals | Elsa/Getty Images

The Sonics got a steal in the 1998 NBA draft when they snagged high school star Rashard Lewis with the third pick in the second round. He had sparse playing time in his rookie year on the contending Sonics, but gradually worked his way into the lineup over the next two years. At his peak, Lewis was the embodiment of what 6-foot-10 small forwards have become in the NBA — an excellent outside shooter and a 20-point-per-game scorer. He moved on after nine seasons and one All-Star appearance in Seattle.

4. Nate McMillan

NBA: 10 Greatest Seattle Super Sonics and Oklahoma City Thunder
Nate McMillan soars | Mike Powell/Getty Images

Nate McMillan, also known as Mr. Sonic, spent his entire playing career in a Seattle uniform from 1987-1998. He spent the majority of his career as the backup point guard to Payton, but early on was able to put up some pretty decent numbers in his own right—averaging 9.3 assists per game as the starter in 1988–89. His addition to the list, and placement, has a lot to do with longevity with the team helping him build his VORP numbers.

3. Jack Sikma

Arriving as the eighth pick in the 1977 NBA Draft, Jack Sikma teamed with Williams as the best players on the 1979 Sonics team that won the NBA title. He averaged 15.6 points and 12.4 rebounds that season, and became known for his strong rebounding and good shooting as a 6-foot-11 center over his nine seasons with the team. He even led the NBA in free-throw shooting percentage at 92.2% at one point later in his career, and transformed his game to include three-point shooting while he was playing with the Bucks.

2. Russell Westbrook

NBA: 10 Greatest Seattle Super Sonics and Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook checks out his competition | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The first of the players from the Oklahoma City Thunder era, Westbrook can reasonably expect to move to second on this list before long. Originally drafted fourth overall in the 2008 NBA draft by the Sonics, just prior to the team moving to Oklahoma City, Westbrook has compiled 36.1 VORP in his eight  full seasons.

Westbrook had some issues with his knees, causing him to miss a big chunk of the 2013–14 season. But he helped lead the team to the NBA Finals in 2011–2012 and is looking forward to at least a few more years with the team, having just signed a three-year, $85 million contract extension. Westbrook carries career averages of 21.5 points, 7.6 assists, and 5.6 rebounds.

1. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant spent his rookie year in Seattle before moving with the franchise to Oklahoma | Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Kevin Durant spent his rookie year in Seattle before moving with the franchise to Oklahoma | Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The biggest reason that Westbrook will likely move up to No. 1 at some point soon is because that spot is held by Kevin Durant, who now plays in a Golden State Warriors uniform. Durant compiled 41.7 VORP in nine seasons with the franchise, eight of them in OKC and his rookie season in Seattle. He averaged 27.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 37.8 minutes per game with the team, winning the 2013–14 MVP award and playing alongside Westbrook in the 2012 NBA Finals.

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Statistics courtesy of ESPN and Basketball-Reference.