The Thunder’s rebuild has entered the next phase with the young squad currently fighting for a postseason berth. They have an opportunity to secure a spot in the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2019-20.
Their improvement this season has been rewarded, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was recently named a Western Conference All-Star reserve. As one of the franchise cornerstones, Gilgeous-Alexander has flourished in 2022-23, scoring 30.8 points per game.
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With the Canadian taking the next step in his career, it’s worth pondering how long will it be until Josh Giddey joins him as an All-Star. When the All-Star voting results were revealed last week, Giddey found himself alongside some solid company.
Among second-year players, he received the second-most votes from his fellow players (13) behind only Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (17). Of the Western Conference guards that didn’t make the cut, he sat in the same tier as Desmond Bane (16), Spencer Dinwiddie (16) and CJ McCollum (15).
|Player Votes (rank)||Fan Votes (rank)||Media Votes (rank)||Weighted Score|
|13 (13th)||92,677 (22nd)||0 (T-5th)||15.5|
Off the back of a strong rookie season which saw him earn All-Rookie Second Team honours, Giddey has taken his game to another level in his sophomore season, improving his shooting from beyond the arc while continuing to put himself in the conversation as one of the best passers in the league.
This season, he became just the fourth player in NBA history to reach 1,000 points, 700 rebounds and 500 assists in his first 100 games, joining Grant Hill, Luka Doncic and Ben Simmons.
Despite being just 20 years old, Giddey’s on-court leadership, unselfishness and commitment to improving his game have been evident this season. He received high praise from someone who knows a thing or two about being an All-Star point guard — Trail Blazers head coach and five-time All-Star Chauncey Billups.
“I really like him. He has an incredible feel,” Billups said of Giddey. “He plays the game very easy. When the guys are open, he passes to them. [If there are] two people there, he passes to the open guy and kicks the ball up the floor.
“[He] makes the game easy for you and everybody else. He always has his head up when he drives the ball. He is a big guy, so he gets to his spots to shoot it. He plays with a confidence that I really like. He is always thinking the game. I think he will be an excellent point guard.”
In recent seasons, there have only been a handful of young players to break into the All-Star Game, including Doncic, LaMelo Ball, Zion Williamson, Trae Young and Ja Morant. That is certainly a high bar for Giddey to clear.
While each of the above players earned their first All-Star selections within their first three seasons, assuming Giddey continues on this current trajectory, Year 4 or Year 5 doesn’t seem out of the question.
But it won’t get any easier for Giddey because the Western Conference is stacked with talented guards fighting for future All-Star status.
The Aussie All-Star blueprint: Revisiting Ben Simmons’ breakout season
In 2018-19, Simmons became the first Australian to be named an All-Star in his third season in the league. And really, it was just his second season after he missed his entire rookie campaign with a foot injury.
That season, Simmons averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists on 56.3 percent shooting. He also established himself as one of the best young perimeter defenders in the league and formed a terrific young duo with Joel Embiid, who earned his first All-Star berth the previous season.
Ultimately, what pushed Simmons across the All-Star line was the fact that the 76ers were one of the most exciting teams in the Eastern Conference, sitting fifth in the standings by mid-February at 37-21.
The Thunder aren’t quite as far along as the 76ers were. But once they are able to break into the top half of the conference, Giddey is next in line in OKC to push for an All-Star berth.
Already a nightly triple-double threat, showing clear signs of improvement and on one of the most exciting young teams in the league, Giddey is well on his way to becoming Australia’s second-ever All-Star.
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