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Gilgeous-Alexander helping Thunder defy odds


Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets center Isaiah Hartenstein defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Some Thunder fans believe tanking to get higher draft picks is the way back to contention.

Apparently, the team disagrees.

Oklahoma City was expected by experts to be one of the NBA’s worst teams this season — just like last season, when they shocked the league and made the playoffs. Once again, the Thunder are defying the odds. Oklahoma City is off to a 6-7 start, despite five of its top seven scorers having been in the league three years or fewer and 35-year-old Mark Daigneault taking on his first NBA head coaching assignment.

Last year, the Thunder had veterans Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Steven Adams and Danilo Gallinari to help them through the tough times. This year, young holdovers Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Hamidou Diallo carry more of the load.

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