Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander claps back at 'too young' narrative ahead of Game 1

Apr 12, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2)
Apr 12, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The OKC Thunder are gearing up for their first playoff excursion in four years, with the festivities kicking off this Sunday evening in a home tilt against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Not only did Oklahoma City manage to snap their long-standing, playoff-less stretch in 2023-24, but they did so while claiming the number one seed out West, which, with their average age of 23.9 years, makes them the youngest club in league history to clinch the top slot in a conference standings.

Though accomplishing such a feat and registering 57 total wins (the franchise's third-highest mark) along the way may have fans excited to see what could be to come under the bright lights of the postseason, some analysts and onlookers have expressed doubt that the Thunder should be considered a legitimate title threat, with media personality Shannon Sharpe going as far as to say that they are the "weakest number one seed" the NBA has seen in a while.

The primary reason for such slander and doubt in their postseason potential: Inexperience.

Of those residing within OKC's primary 11-man rotation, only four players are of the ages of 25 and over while just three have any semblance of playoff experience.

It is because of this that many are counting the Thunder out as serious contenders despite coming in as the top seed in the Western Conference standings and, during a recent media availability session, superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander expressed his disdain for such a talking point.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander claps back at 'too young' narrative for Thunder

"I've heard that all year. It's not going to change. We're still young [and] probably [will] be young for another four or five years. We don't worry about it. We focus on [our preparation]."

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Gilgeous-Alexander has been a vocal opponent to this sentiment that their inexperience should be seen as a flaw heading into the playoffs, noting that it could actually "help us" because not knowing what it's like could allow them to "play free."

Despite their youthfulness, the Thunder have proven to be one of the league's elite groups throughout the 2023-24 campaign, as they became the first team of their age to register 55 or more wins in a season and are heading into the playoffs with the game's most recent Coach of the Year winner in Mark Daigneault and, quite possibly, the league's MVP in Gilgeous-Alexander

On top of this, they find themselves ranking first in the association in three-point percentage, second in plus-minus, and second in overall net rating, showing that their greatness far exceeds just the record department and generic counting stats.

Now, it's time to see if this high-end productivity can flow right along into the uncharted territory that is the NBA Postseason

SGA believes it certainly can, and Sunday's Game 1 against the Pelicans could provide fans with a better understanding of if the star guard is on to something.