With the first round of NBA All-Star voting having been released and just two weeks left before voting closes we the rosters — and who is on the bubble of those rosters — is starting to come into view.
And for OKC’s best candidate — Shai Gilgeous Alexander — it will be an uphill battle to make the cut.
Gilgeous-Alexander was not one of the Top-10 vote-getters among Western Conference guards, with Golden State’s Stephen Curry leading the way.
There are four guaranteed spots for guards from the West and two positionless spots, with more candidates than positions to put them.
Curry is entrenched into one of the starting spots and is likely going to be one of the captains, so that leaves us with three guard spots.
Memphis’ Ja Morant is having the best year of his career and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell is Top-10 in scoring ,so there’s two more spots gone.
That leaves us with one guard spot and two wildcards to fill. Among the Top-10 vote-getters there are a few that seem more like fan hopes than legitimate All-Stars — Klay Thompson (4th) has yet to make his debut and the Lakers' Russell Westbrook (9th) is having his worst season in a decade.
But we are still left with Portland’s Damian Lillard, Dallas’ Luka Doncic, Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Chris Paul, San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray, Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards and finally Gilgeous-Alexander.
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The final guard spot will almost definitely go to one of the members of the league-leading Suns, likely Booker.
The depth of frontcourt players in the West isn’t quite what it is in the backcourt, so it isn’t crazy to think two more guards could take the wildcard spots — putting us with six players for two spots.
Among those left Gilgeous-Alexander ranks fourth in points, fifth in assists and fourth in rebounds.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)
Luka Doncic (DAL)
Chris Paul (PHO)
Damian Lillard (POR)
Anthony Edwards (MIN)
Dejounte Murray (SA)
The Thunder (13-25) have the fourth-worst record in the league, so the winning record that might push someone like Paul over the line will inversely be held against Gilgeous-Alexander.
The good news for the Thunder star is that fan voting only counts for the starters and its NBA coaches who select the reserves for each conference.
So will we see the Thunder’s first All-Star in three years on Feb. 20 in Cleveland? It’s certainly possible. Paul and Doncic will likely be the favorites to take those last two spots, but Gilgeous-Alexander has taken a monumental step in his career this season and is having a comparable season to the other guards on the bubble, so with a couple weeks left he’s still in the race.
The All-Star starters will be announced on Jan. 22 followed by the reserves on Jan. 27, so we will have to wait to see whether or not OKC is represented this time around.