Rebuilding Thunder would be wise to keep Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who appears to be an ideal building block

Since being chosen No. 11 total within the 2018 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers — by way of the Charlotte HornetsShai Gilgeous-Alexander has established himself as the most effective younger guards in the whole NBA. He began 73 video games for the Clippers as a rookie, and he was named Second Staff All-Rookie because of his promising play. After the season, he was dealt to the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder because the centerpiece within the package deal that netted the Clippers a perennial All-Star in Paul George, and since becoming a member of the Thunder Gilgeous-Alexander has continued to blossom as a participant. 

This previous season, Gilgeous-Alexander took a serious step ahead, each when it comes to manufacturing and effectivity. He averaged career-highs in factors (23.7) and assists (5.9) per sport, whereas capturing 50 p.c from the ground and 41 p.c from lengthy vary. The 23-year-old appeared an entire lot like a future perennial All-Star himself within the course of, although his season was minimize quick resulting from a tear in his plantar fascia. Solely 4 gamers within the Western Convention averaged at the least 20 factors and 5 assists per sport whereas capturing above 50 p.c from the sphere and 35 p.c from 3-point vary final season. Gilgeous-Alexander was considered one of them. The opposite three have been Nikola Jokic, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard

As a guard able to attending to the rim, spacing the ground together with his shot, and establishing his teammates, Gilgeous-Alexander appears precisely like the kind of participant {that a} rebuilding crew, just like the Thunder, would wish to construct round in in the present day’s NBA, the place guard play and flooring spacing are each at a premium. Plus, as superior as he’s on offense, he additionally has the potential to be elite on the opposite finish of the ground given his mixture of measurement — he is 6’6″ — and athleticism.

Regardless of this although, it seems as if the Thunder are at the least considerably open to the concept of buying and selling away Gilgeous-Alexander — for the correct worth, clearly. A report from Matt Babcock of Basketball News steered that the Thunder supplied Gilgeous-Alexander and the sixth total decide within the 2021 NBA Draft to the Pistons in alternate for the highest decide — a suggestion that was turned down by Detroit. A separate report from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report steered that the Thunder guard is “not inconceivable to get.”

Only a few gamers within the NBA are actually untouchable in commerce talks, and Gilgeous-Alexander is not considered one of them. However, he ought to be shut. If the Thunder have the chance to land a longtime star participant by parting methods with Gilgeous-Alexander, positive, perhaps they do it. Outdoors of that although, it positive looks like he is a participant that the Thunder ought to maintain on to as they attempt to construct again right into a contender over the approaching years. He hasn’t come near scratching his ceiling as a participant, and at solely 23, he has one other 10 years earlier than age would possibly begin to meet up with him. A decade of superb, probably nice, or doubtlessly even elite guard play in a guard-dominated league is a really worthwhile factor. 

Gilgeous-Alexander was drafted eleventh, however he is a top-five expertise, and buying and selling him for an unknown, like a draft decide, or something wanting a participant that’s already his superior, simply would not make a lot sense. When you have been drafting as a rebuilding crew, you’d hope to land a participant nearly as good as Gilgeous-Alexander. Plus, it is not just like the Thunder want any extra picks, since they’ve 34 (actually) between 2021 and 2027. In the event that they hit on even just some of these picks, they’re going to stay well-stocked with younger expertise.

Heading into his fourth NBA season, Gilgeous-Alexander is eligible for an extension this summer season — a subject that Thunder basic supervisor Sam Presti addressed on the conclusion of Oklahoma Metropolis’s season.

 “We’ve got an enormous dialog that we’ll have the ability to have with Shai developing within the offseason,” Presti said. “We’re actually trying ahead to that. His affect on the crew was fairly apparent, and we expect he is a really, very shiny rising participant within the NBA. We could not be extra excited in regards to the progress he took, each as a participant but in addition as a frontrunner throughout the 12 months.”  

Some might level to the looming extension as a motive that the Thunder would possibly look to commerce Gilgeous-Alexander, versus paying him massive cash within the current. Nevertheless, holes could be poked in that argument fairly shortly, as he can be much more worthwhile as a commerce asset on a multi-year, team-controlled deal if the crew was actually decided to maneuver him, which does not appear to be the case. Presti has confirmed to be a shrewd government, so one can solely assume he realizes how worthwhile Gilgeous-Alexander is. He has the makings of a future star, and as a rebuilding crew, the Thunder will want these. Thus, they’d be smart to carry onto the one they have already got. | Rebuilding Thunder can be smart to maintain Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who seems to be an excellent constructing block


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