The Seattle SuperSonics were one of the great teams of the '90s behind stars like Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, and Detlef Schrempf. From 2000 on however, the team drifted towards the middle tier of the NBA, mostly missing the playoffs, and lacking in any superstars to help them reach their previous heights. As a result of the falloff, the SuperSonics were sold, and not long after most Seattle folks believe they were stolen away from the city, when they moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. In the few short years as the Thunder the zombie-Sonics became one of the best teams in the NBA with three, and then two, and now just one of the top five or so players in the NBA. That post-2000 era did of course have some forgettable players but they also did have a few stars for a few seasons in there. Here is the list of the seven worst and eight best players to play for the Seattle SuperSonics since 2000. Sorry Harden and Westbrook, you don’t qualify.
15 Best: Vin Baker
After not getting any offers from the big time college basketball programs, Vin Baker accepted a scholarship to Hartford University where he became the school’s best player of all time. Although Baker averaged 20 points per game during his four years there, the team never had much success, their best season being a 14-14 finish. When the 1993 NBA Draft came around, Baker was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the eight overall pick in the first round. He made an impact immediately, scoring over 13 points and grabbing over seven rebounds per game in his rookie year. By his second year, Baker was named to the first of his four straight All-Star games, and was soon averaging over 20 points and around 10 boards per game. In 1997 he was traded to the SuperSonics and played five seasons in Seattle. He was an All-Star his first year there but his production went down as he was not the main go to player. He did average over 15 points and almost seven rebounds per game with the Sonics and was one of their best players during his time in Seattle.
14 Worst: Ansu Sesay
Over his four year career at the University of Mississippi, Ansu Sesay was named All-SEC twice, and was an All-American and the SEC Player of the Year in his senior season in 1998. He was drafted in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks with the 30th overall pick in the second round. He injured his ACL before the season began and spent the following year in the CBA. He then went to the NBA D-League where he was the D-League MVP in 2002. He was called up to Seattle and played occasionally as the injury ravaged SuperSonics snuck into the playoffs. In the following two seasons, injuries hampered him a little and he did not get a ton of playing time. In 2004 he joined the Golden State Warriors in what was his final NBA Season. In his three years with the Sonics he averaged 3.2 points and just under two rebounds per game.
13 Best: Nick Collison
After starring at the University of Kansas for four years where he averaged almost 15 points and eight rebounds per game, Nick Collison was named Big 12 Player of the Year and a consensus All-American in 2003. In the 2003 NBA Draft he was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 12th overall pick in the first round. He played in every game his rookie season. Although he played fewer games in his second year, his production ticked up, and he continued to improve the following two seasons before the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City. His first four years in the NBA, while the team was in Seattle, were Collison’s best and most consistent years as a pro. He averaged over eight points and just less than seven rebound per game, missing just 20 games in those first four years.
12 Worst: Ruben Wolkowyski
A long time member of the Argentina national team, Ruben Wolkowyski has played all over the world in countless different professional basketball leagues. He started his career bouncing around a few Argentinean clubs before he joined the Seattle SuperSonics in 2000. He also saw time in the NBA with the Boston Celtics before wandering the international leagues from Russia to Greece, Poland, Italy, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, and most recently back to Argentina with the very first team he played for Quilme Mar del Plata. With the national team, Wolkowyski won a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as a silver medal in the FIBA World Cup in 2002. During his time with the SuperSonics, he averaged 2.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 34 games.
11 Best: Desmond Mason
A solid guy off the bench during the early part of his career, Desmond Mason played his college basketball at Oklahoma State. He was drafted with the 17th overall pick in the first round by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2000 NBA Draft. He had a solid rookie year, only missing four games on the season and averaging just under six points per game. His second and third years with the Sonics he upped his production to double digits in points and around five rebounds per game. Mason was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005 along with Gary Payton as part of the deal that brought Ray Allen to the Sonics. Overall Mason averaged over 10 points and over five rebounds per game in his three seasons in Seattle. The real highlight of his time there however, was winning the 2001 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
10 Worst: Olumide Oyedeji
A key part of the Nigerian national team, playing with them for almost 20 years, Olumide Oyedeji has also had an extensive international career in addition to his three seasons in the NBA. His twenty year international career began in the Nigerian premier league with stops in Russia, Germany, Greece, China, Kuwait, Korea, Puerto Rico, Italy among many others. He is currently playing for the London Lions in the English professional league. When he was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 42nd overall pick in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft he became the first African player from outside of America to be drafted. He spent two of his three NBA seasons with the Sonics, averaging 1.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.
9 Best: Brent Barry
The son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry actually played in the NBA for the same number of seasons as his legendary father had, and he even finished his career with one more NBA championship than his father. Beyond that however, Brent Barry’s career was not quite as impressive as Rick’s. Brent played his college hoops for four years at Oregon State. He was drafted in the first round of the 1995 NBA Draft with the 15th overall pick by the Denver Nuggets who traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers on draft night. Barry played for the Clippers for three years, the highlight of his time there was when he won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1996. After short stints with Miami and Chicago, Barry was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1999 where he played for five seasons and scored 11.3 points and grabbed 4.6 rebounds per game. He then went to San Antonio for four seasons where he won two NBA titles with the Spurs.
8 Worst: Eddie Gill
There is not much less you can do, production-wise for a team than what Eddie Gill did with the SuperSonics in his very short time with them. Gill did manage to hang around in the NBA for seven seasons despite not being selected in the 2000 NBA Draft. Gill played his college basketball for almost as many teams as he did as a pro, with stints at College of Eastern Utah, Salt Lake Community College, and finally Weber St where he led the team to a 14th-seed in the NCAA tournament and an upset victory over third seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. When Gill made it to Seattle he was on his sixth team and in his second to last season. He played one game, for five minutes with one turnover and one assist and averaged 0.0 points per game.
7 Best: Rashard Lewis
The Seattle SuperSonics drafted Rashard Lewis directly out of high school in the 1998 NBA Draft with the 32nd overall selection in the second round. He did not play much his rookie year but he established himself as a solid player in his second season averaging over eight points and over four rebounds per game. He made a good jump in production during his third season and continued to steadily improve throughout his time with the Sonics eventually averaging over 22 points per game in his final year with the team. He was named as an All-Star twice for Seattle, and along with Ray Allen helped them to 52 wins and the second round of the playoffs in 2005. Over his nine seasons with the Sonics, Lewis was one of their best players, averaging 16.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
6 Worst: Robert Swift
Robert Swift played three seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics, sitting out one with a knee injury, before the team made their way to Oklahoma City in his fifth year in the league. Despite initially committing to play for the USC Trojans, Swift decided instead to enter the 2004 NBA Draft. The SuperSonics then selected Swift in the first round with the 12th overall pick. He did not play much in his first year, averaging less than a point per game, but in his second year he did okay, playing in about half of the Sonics’ games and averaging just over six points, just under six rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. The following season he blew out his ACL in the preseason and missed the year. Upon returning from injury he only played in eight games and averaged less than two points per game.
5 Best: Kevin Durant
Even though he only played one season as an actual Seattle SuperSonic, and is most well known (so far) for his exploits with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant was a Seattle Supersonic before he was anything else. After one excellent year in college playing for the Texas Longhorns and averaging over 25 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, Durant declared for the 2007 NBA Draft. The Sonics selected Durant with the second overall pick. In the team’s final year in Seattle, Durant became only the third teenager to average over 20 points per game other than Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, while on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year award. He of course continued to improve and soon dominated the league when the Sonics transmuted into the Thunder. After coming up short of a championship a few times in Oklahoma City, he signed with Golden State in the 2016 offseason.
4 Worst: Pervis Ellison
After a decent 11 year career in the NBA, Pervis Ellsion played his last year in Seattle. His production for the SuperSonics was dismal in the few games he played. Originally a star at Louisville in the late '80s, “Never Nervous” Pervis led the Cardinals to the national championship in his freshman year and was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. As a senior at Louisville he was named a consensus All-American. Ellison was drafted with the first overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings but was injured for much of the season and was traded to the Washington Bullets the following year. He had a few good years with the Bullets averaging 20 points per game in 1992. His production steadily declined and injuries mounted over the rest of his career until he made it to Seattle where he averaged less than one point and less than two rebounds per game before retiring.
3 Best: Ray Allen
One future Hall of Famer who had a great run with the Seattle SuperSonics was Jesus Shuttlesworth himself, Ray Allen. One of the best shooters of all time, Allen played college basketball at UConn where he was a consensus All-American and UPI Player of the Year in 1996. He was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and traded to the Milwaukee Bucks where he played for seven seasons and helped the Bucks to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals. In 2003 Allen was traded to the SuperSonics where he spent five years. While with the Sonics he averaged over 24 points per game and established himself as the best three point shooter in the league, setting a record for most threes made in a season and moving into second place all time in three pointers made. In 2007 Allen was traded to the Celtics and became a key part of their “Big Three” which won the NBA title in 2008. He finished his career with another championship with the Miami Heat, which would never have happened without his iconic game-tying three in game six of the NBA Finals.
2 Worst: Mateen Cleaves
As one of the greatest Michigan State Spartans of all time, Mateen Cleaves was named All-American three times, was a two time Big-10 Player of the Year, and led the Spartans to the NCAA Final Four and National Championship in 2000. After his record setting college career, Cleaves was selected with the 14th overall pick in the first round of the 2000 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. He played just one season in Detroit before he was traded to the Sacramento Kings where he played occasionally over two seasons. After four games with the Cleveland Cavaliers during his fourth season in the NBA, Cleaves signed with the SuperSonics in 2004 and played a handful of games for them over his final two seasons. He averaged 2.1 points per game with the SuperSonics while he was in Seattle.
1 Best: Gary Payton
One of the best Seattle SuperSonics of all time has to be Hall of Famer Gary Payton. In 13 seasons with the Sonics, Payton was named first, second, or third-team NBA All-Pro nine times, was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1996, led the league in steals in 1996, and took Seattle to the 1993 Western Conference Finals as well as the 1996 NBA Finals. Payton played his college hoops at Oregon State University. He led the Beavers to three NCAA tournaments while there, was a three time All-Pac 10 selection, and was a consensus All-American in 1990. Payton was drafted by the SuperSonics in the 1990 NBA Draft with the second overall pick. Over his 13 seasons with Seattle, Payton averaged over 18 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.
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