Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is too good for Oklahoma City Thunder to give up already – .

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is too good for Oklahoma City Thunder to give up already – .

Since being selected No. 11 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers – via the Charlotte Hornets – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has established himself as one of the best young guards in the entire NBA. He started 73 games for the Clippers as a rookie, and he was named second all-star team because of his promising play. After the season, he was awarded to the Oklahoma City Thunder as the centerpiece of the package that earned the Clippers an eternal All-Star for Paul George, and since joining the Thunder Gilgeous-Alexander has continued to flourish as a player.

Last season Gilgeous-Alexander took a big step forward, both in terms of production and efficiency. He’s averaged career highs in points (23.7) and assists (5.9) per game, while shooting 50% from the ground and 41% from long distance. The 23-year-old looked a lot like a perennial future All-Star himself in the process, despite his season being cut short due to a tear in his plantar fascia. Only four Western Conference players averaged at least 20 points and five assists per game while shooting over 50% of the field and 35% of the 3-point range last season. Gilgeous-Alexander was one of them. The other three were Nikola Jokic, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.

As a goalie able to reach the edge, space the floor with his shot, and prepare his teammates, Gilgeous-Alexander looks exactly like the type of player a rebuilding team like the Thunder would want to build in the NBA. today. , where both guard play and ground spacing are important. Plus, as advanced as he is in offense, he also has the potential to be the elite on the other end of the field given his combination of height – he is 6’6 “- and athleticism.

Despite that, it seems the Thunder are at least somewhat open to the idea of ​​swapping Gilgeous-Alexander – for the right price, obviously. A report by Basketball News’s Matt Babcock suggested the Thunder offered Gilgeous-Alexander and the sixth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft to the Pistons in exchange for the first pick – an offer that was turned down by Detroit. A separate report by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggested that the Thunder Guard is “no longer unobtainable.”

Very few NBA players are truly untouchable in trade negotiations, and Gilgeous-Alexander is not one of them. But, it should be close. If the Thunder have the chance to land an established star player by parting ways with Gilgeous-Alexander, sure enough, maybe they will. Other than that, it does look like he’s a player the Thunder should hang on to as they try to become a contender again over the next few years. He hasn’t come close to scratching his ceiling as a player, and at just 23, he’s still 10 years old before age starts to catch up with him. A decade of very good, maybe excellent, even elite, in a league dominated by the guards is a very precious thing.

Gilgeous-Alexander was drafted 11th, but he’s in the top five, and trading him for a stranger, like a draft pick, or anything less than a player who’s already his boss, doesn’t just wouldn’t make much sense. If you drafted as a rebuilding team, you hope to land a player as good as Gilgeous-Alexander. Plus, it’s not like the Thunder need more choices, because they have 34 (literally) between 2021 and 2027. If they only hit a few of those picks, they will remain well-stocked with young talent.

Heading into his fourth NBA season, Gilgeous-Alexander is eligible for overtime this summer – a topic Thunder general manager Sam Presti brought up at the end of Oklahoma City’s season.

“We’re having a great conversation that we can have with Shai in the offseason,” Presti said. “We are looking forward to this. His impact on the team was pretty obvious, and we think he’s a very, very bright rising player in the NBA. We couldn’t be more excited about the growth he has taken, both as a player but also as a leader over the year. ”

Some may point to the impending expansion being a reason the Thunder might be looking to trade Gilgeous-Alexander, instead of paying him big bucks in the present. However, holes can be drilled in this argument quite quickly, as it would be even more valuable as a business asset under a team-controlled, multi-year deal if the team were truly committed to moving it, this which does not appear to be the case. the case. Presti has proven to be a crafty executive, so one can only assume that he realizes how valuable Gilgeous-Alexander is. He’s got the makings of a future star, and as a rebuilding team, the Thunder will need him. Thus, they would be wise to keep the one they already have.


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