With NBA All-Star Weekend coming to Salt Lake City in the next few weeks, the Oklahoma City Thunder are starting to gather their representative cast.
Two Thunder players have already qualified for NBA All-Star 2023, and two more may be invited to select events.
On Tuesday afternoon, the NBA released the official roster for the 2023 Jordan Rising Stars event. It’s the league’s annual showcase for young talent and potential future All-Stars, with 28 rookies, sophomores, and G League players competing on Friday, February 17.
Oklahoma City will be represented by rookie Jalen Williams and sophomore Josh Giddy as part of this 28-man roster.
Giddy has appeared in 45 games (all starts) this season, accumulating 16.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. Of his sophomore season, he ranks second in assists, third in rebounds, and fourth in points this season.
Despite being a rookie, Williams has emerged as one of the top players on the Thunder’s roster, averaging 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals in 46 games. Among rookies, he ranks second in steals, fourth in assists, and fifth in points, making him one of the most efficient players off the floor.
This will be Giddy’s second Rising Star event, as Giddy and Williams are the 12th and 13th players in Thunder history to earn these accolades.
Although the format has changed over the years, several iterations of the event have become staples of NBA All-Star weekends dating back to 1994.
This particular event will work similarly to last year, with a 3-game mini-tournament between 4 teams. Twenty-one NBA players selected by NBA assistant coaches will be drafted into three teams of seven.
Seven NBA G League players selected by the NBA League Secretariat will form Team 4.
To select the 21 NBA player entrants, each team across the league picks 4 frontcourt players, 4 guards, and 2 additional players at any position in order of priority for a rookie vote. and submitted a sophomore ballot. Coaches could not vote for players on their own team.
These talented young teams will be coached by former NBA legends Jason Terry, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Deron Williams. Terry will coach the G League team, while three other coaches will draft the seven-player NBA roster.
All three games are played to the final target score. In other words, the game ends with a successful basket or free throw rather than time out.
Outside of Williams and Giddy, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is almost on lock for the weekend’s premier event, the 72nd Annual NBA All-Star Game.
The superstar guard is averaging 30.9 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 51% from the floor, 36.8% from deep and 90.8% from the line. Simply put, he was spectacular on both ends of the floor.
He definitely should have been a starter, according to the votes of fans, players and media, but ultimately has to join as a reserve.
Alternates will be announced on Thursday, February 2, with seven players selected in each conference. Two guards, three frontcourt players, and his two additional players at any position will be cut, and all of these athletes will be picked by the NBA’s head coach.
With Gilgeous-Alexander appearing to be the rock to make the team in reserve, that means the Thunder need at least three members of the Salt Lake City roster to join them.
There’s still hope for a fourth, as sniper Isaiah Joe has good reason to be invited to the 2023 PepsiCo 3-Point Contest.
In Joe’s first season with Oklahoma City, he was one of the best 3-point shooters in the entire NBA. Among his shooters by volume who attempt at least four of his triples per game, he ranks fourth in efficiency from deep, where he is at 44.3%.
Whatever happens to Joe, the Thunder’s capable roster has been rewarded for a great start to the season. I am participating in a playoff race.