On Sunday afternoon, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder officially clinched the number one seed in the vaunted Western Conference playoff picture with a win over the Dallas Mavericks at home, setting the stage for what fans hope is a deep run into the playoffs on the heels of their historic regular season success. Gilgeous-Alexander has stuffed the stat sheet on a nightly basis in 2023-24 for a Thunder team that will now await the Play-In tournament results and prepare for a playoff series vs either the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, or Golden State Warriors, to begin next weekend.

Gilgeous-Alexander's rise to NBA stardom over the last two years, combined with the team success for the Thunder, have prompted some discussions that the Canadian All-Star should be in the league MVP discussion, particularly now that Oklahoma City has clinched the number one seed in the conference and the number two overall seed in the NBA.

โ€œI said if the young Thunder wind up with the No. 1 seed in the West, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be MVP. They did and he is,โ€ wrote sports media personality Skip Bayless on X, the social media platform formerly referred to as Twitter.

Another user pointed out that โ€œShai just led a young OKC team from the 10th seed to the 1st seed by being a lock for 30 points every night and defending on the other end. You take him off that team they aren't in the playoffs. He should be the MVP this year.โ€

Meanwhile, Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault has found himself at the center of Coach of the Year talks in his performance guiding the Thunder, who are the youngest team in the NBA by a country mile, to such great heights.

A highly anticipated playoff run

Last season's Thunder postseason run lasted two games in the Play-In tournament, as Oklahoma City upset the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round before being sent home by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round.

This year, things are obviously going to be quite a bit different, as the Thunder are slated to take the floor as one of the NBA's elite teams and will have home court advantage in one of the NBA's loudest home environments. Still, Oklahoma City is not without its skeptics, particularly if they were to match up in a series with the Los Angeles Lakers, a team filled with veteran experience and who had their way with the Thunder during this regular season.

In any case, with the young core being so, well, young, the Thunder certainly don't have the pressure on their shoulders this year that other teams like the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, and Dallas Mavericks do. That of course won't stop the Thunder from giving it their all and looking to make a deep playoff push, considering they are after all the number one seed.

Game 1 of their first round series, against whoever it may be, will take place on Sunday, April 21st in Oklahoma City.