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Oklahoma City Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Could End Up Being One Of The Best Players From The Loaded 2018 NBA Draft

Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets

The Fresh Prince of OKC — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s self-proclaimed nickname upon being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder last summer. In a blockbuster deal that sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, Gilgeous-Alexander was handed the keys to the franchise in Oklahoma City as the point guard of the future. A one-and-done college player at the University of Kentucky, he was selected No. 11 overall in the loaded 2018 NBA Draft. 

  1. Deandre Ayton 
  2. Marvin Bagley 
  3. Luka Doncic 
  4. Jaren Jackson Jr. 
  5. Trae Young 
  6. Mohamed Bamba 
  7. Wendell Carter 
  8. Collin Sexton 
  9. Kevin Knox 
  10. Mikal Bridges 
  11. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  12. Miles Bridges
  13. Jerome Robinson
  14. Michael Porter Jr. 

While it’s much too early to tell who the top-five players in the 2018 NBA Draft will be, things are starting to take shape in regards to who may have been drafted too high or too low. However, in just their second NBA season, the 2018 class does have some guys who stand out above the rest. 

Luka Doncic

After winning NBA Rookie of the Year, it appears Luka Doncic is going to be a generational talent. At 20 years old, he will officially be an NBA All-Star starter in just his second season. With absurd statistics, averaging 29.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per contest, Doncic projects to be the best player in the 2018 class. Shooting 20.4 field goals per games this season, his role on the Dallas Mavericks is to shoulder a large portion of the offensive load. 

Trae Young

Another NBA All-Star starter in just his second season is Trae Young. While he may get less praise than Doncic, he is certainly a player who could also be a generational type talent. Averaging 29.1 points, 8.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds per game on 83.9 percent free throw shooting and 37.0 percent from deep, Young is already one of the NBA’s most deadly shooters. He is another guy who is tasked with being the number one scorer on his team, averaging 20.8 shots per contest. 

Jaren Jackson Jr. 

Becoming one of the league’s most fun big men to watch play, Jaren Jackson has helped propel the Memphis Grizzlies to the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Shooting 40.9 percent from beyond the arc on 6.5 attempts per game, Jackson is the perfect big man for the modern NBA. He’s averaged 18.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game this season. In less of a scoring role than Young and Doncic, Jackson attempts 13.5 field goals per game, showing just how efficient he is. 

Deandre Ayton

The No. 1 overall pick the 2018 NBA Draft has had an odd start to his career. After a solid rookie season, finishing third in NBA Rookie of the Year voting, his second season had a rocky start. Ayton was suspended 25 games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for a diuretic. Since coming back, he’s started 10 of the 15 games he’s played in while averaging 17.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks per game on 14.2 shot attempts.

Ayton has proven that he can be a high-producing player in multiple ways, but what is the ceiling of a non-shooting big man in today’s NBA? He has only attempted five 3-pointers in his career, connecting on zero of them.  

Marvin Bagley

After lingering injuries resulted in him only playing in 62 games his rookie year, Marvin Bagley looked to put that behind him coming into the 2019-20 season. Unfortunately, more injuries have led Bagley to appear in only 13 games in his second season. Of the 75 NBA games he has under his belt, he has only started in ten of them. In a secondary scoring role for the Sacramento Kings, he attempts 12.8 shots per game, averaging 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds.

What’s maybe most concerning is his 18.2 percent 3-point shooting this season after shooting 31.3 percent last season. The overall talent of Bagley isn’t in question whatsoever, it’s whether he can stay healthy and develop towards becoming the player we all know he can be. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s role last season with the Clippers is certainly very different than it is this season with the Thunder. He’s started every game, playing 9.1 more minutes and attempting 6.6 more shots per contest than his rookie season. Gilgeous-Alexander finished sixth in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting, resulting in him being just shy of making the NBA All-Rookie First Team. 

Coming to Oklahoma City really sparked his game overall. While players are expected to increase production between their first and second seasons, Gilgeous-Alexander has made one of the biggest jumps of any player in the entire league from last season to this season. He is averaging 19.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 33.5 percent from deep. His 19.8 points per game (which leads the team) comes on only 15.3 field goal attempts.

Even playing alongside a future Hall of Famer in Chris Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander’s aggressiveness and leadership has put him in the conversation as one of the most exciting young players to watch in the league. Not many playoff teams can say their leading scorer is in their second NBA season.

Last night in Oklahoma City, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Trae Young went head-to-head in their first matchup of the season. Young started out slow and didn’t score his first points until he made a trip to the free throw line with 5:33 left in the first half. Still a close game at half, with Oklahoma City leading by 8, Young’s slow start didn’t seem to be a problem.

Ultimately, the Thunder would blow out the Hawks 140-111 as Oklahoma City scored the most points they had in any game all season. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 24 points and 6 assists while Young had 26 points and a career-high 16 assists. Both players had exceptional games and will continue to be a fun matchup for years to come. While Oklahoma City came out on top against Atlanta, this was a sneak peak of just how fun future Thunder and Hawks matchups will be as two of the NBA’s best young point guards battled it out. 

“I mean he can play. I’ve played against him in AAU, USA Basketball, Canada, I’ve gone against him a lot throughout my career and he’s a hell of a player. I think you see with what me and Luka are doing in our class, Shai is representing our class well too. He’s doing great out here and I’m pulling for him,” said Young after the game.

While a serviceable 3-point shooter, great passer, crafty dribbler, and versatile defender, what is most impressive about Gilgeous-Alexander’s game his is ability to finish around the rim. Regardless of the size of the defender contesting his shot, he always finds a way to use angles, adjust his body, and spin on the ball off the glass the right way to finish the shot. 

Mike Muscala spoke after the game about Gilgeous-Alexander’s finishes around the rim, giving high praise while saying, “It’s really impressive, he’s one of the finishers I’ve ever seen play.”

Chris Paul cut Muscala off after this quote, jokingly saying he was wrong. Later on when Paul was asked about this, he continued to joke saying, “He can finish, I mean he’s great at drawing fouls but it’s even better if he goes to the free throw line and makes his free throws. He missed two in a row tonight, you know what I mean? Somebody’s gotta keep him humble if everyone’s gonna talk about how good he is.”

With a season and a half of sample size, it’s fair to say that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be one of the best players in the 2018 class, but how high? It certainly looks like he has the potential to be top-five or even top-three, which is much better than his original draft position. Only time will tell, but Oklahoma City has a versatile guard in Gilgeous-Alexander who will be exceptional for many years to come. 

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 7: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder warms up … [+] before the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on January 7, 2020 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)

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The Fresh Prince of OKC — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s self-proclaimed nickname upon being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder last summer. In a blockbuster deal that sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, Gilgeous-Alexander was handed the keys to the franchise in Oklahoma City as the point guard of the future. A one-and-done college player at the University of Kentucky, he was selected No. 11 overall in the loaded 2018 NBA Draft. 

  1. Deandre Ayton 
  2. Marvin Bagley 
  3. Luka Doncic 
  4. Jaren Jackson Jr. 
  5. Trae Young 
  6. Mohamed Bamba 
  7. Wendell Carter 
  8. Collin Sexton 
  9. Kevin Knox 
  10. Mikal Bridges 
  11. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  12. Miles Bridges
  13. Jerome Robinson
  14. Michael Porter Jr. 

While it’s much too early to tell who the top-five players in the 2018 NBA Draft will be, things are starting to take shape in regards to who may have been drafted too high or too low. However, in just their second NBA season, the 2018 class does have some guys who stand out above the rest. 

Luka Doncic

After winning NBA Rookie of the Year, it appears Luka Doncic is going to be a generational talent. At 20 years old, he will officially be an NBA All-Star starter in just his second season. With absurd statistics, averaging 29.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per contest, Doncic projects to be the best player in the 2018 class. Shooting 20.4 field goals per games this season, his role on the Dallas Mavericks is to shoulder a large portion of the offensive load. 

Trae Young

Another NBA All-Star starter in just his second season is Trae Young. While he may get less praise than Doncic, he is certainly a player who could also be a generational type talent. Averaging 29.1 points, 8.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds per game on 83.9 percent free throw shooting and 37.0 percent from deep, Young is already one of the NBA’s most deadly shooters. He is another guy who is tasked with being the number one scorer on his team, averaging 20.8 shots per contest. 

Jaren Jackson Jr. 

Becoming one of the league’s most fun big men to watch play, Jaren Jackson has helped propel the Memphis Grizzlies to the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Shooting 40.9 percent from beyond the arc on 6.5 attempts per game, Jackson is the perfect big man for the modern NBA. He’s averaged 18.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game this season. In less of a scoring role than Young and Doncic, Jackson attempts 13.5 field goals per game, showing just how efficient he is. 

Deandre Ayton

The No. 1 overall pick the 2018 NBA Draft has had an odd start to his career. After a solid rookie season, finishing third in NBA Rookie of the Year voting, his second season had a rocky start. Ayton was suspended 25 games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for a diuretic. Since coming back, he’s started 10 of the 15 games he’s played in while averaging 17.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks per game on 14.2 shot attempts.

Ayton has proven that he can be a high-producing player in multiple ways, but what is the ceiling of a non-shooting big man in today’s NBA? He has only attempted five 3-pointers in his career, connecting on zero of them.  

Marvin Bagley

After lingering injuries resulted in him only playing in 62 games his rookie year, Marvin Bagley looked to put that behind him coming into the 2019-20 season. Unfortunately, more injuries have led Bagley to appear in only 13 games in his second season. Of the 75 NBA games he has under his belt, he has only started in ten of them. In a secondary scoring role for the Sacramento Kings, he attempts 12.8 shots per game, averaging 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds.

What’s maybe most concerning is his 18.2 percent 3-point shooting this season after shooting 31.3 percent last season. The overall talent of Bagley isn’t in question whatsoever, it’s whether he can stay healthy and develop towards becoming the player we all know he can be. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s role last season with the Clippers is certainly very different than it is this season with the Thunder. He’s started every game, playing 9.1 more minutes and attempting 6.6 more shots per contest than his rookie season. Gilgeous-Alexander finished sixth in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting, resulting in him being just shy of making the NBA All-Rookie First Team. 

Coming to Oklahoma City really sparked his game overall. While players are expected to increase production between their first and second seasons, Gilgeous-Alexander has made one of the biggest jumps of any player in the entire league from last season to this season. He is averaging 19.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 33.5 percent from deep. His 19.8 points per game (which leads the team) comes on only 15.3 field goal attempts.

Even playing alongside a future Hall of Famer in Chris Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander’s aggressiveness and leadership has put him in the conversation as one of the most exciting young players to watch in the league. Not many playoff teams can say their leading scorer is in their second NBA season.

Last night in Oklahoma City, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Trae Young went head-to-head in their first matchup of the season. Young started out slow and didn’t score his first points until he made a trip to the free throw line with 5:33 left in the first half. Still a close game at half, with Oklahoma City leading by 8, Young’s slow start didn’t seem to be a problem.

Ultimately, the Thunder would blow out the Hawks 140-111 as Oklahoma City scored the most points they had in any game all season. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 24 points and 6 assists while Young had 26 points and a career-high 16 assists. Both players had exceptional games and will continue to be a fun matchup for years to come. While Oklahoma City came out on top against Atlanta, this was a sneak peak of just how fun future Thunder and Hawks matchups will be as two of the NBA’s best young point guards battled it out. 

“I mean he can play. I’ve played against him in AAU, USA Basketball, Canada, I’ve gone against him a lot throughout my career and he’s a hell of a player. I think you see with what me and Luka are doing in our class, Shai is representing our class well too. He’s doing great out here and I’m pulling for him,” said Young after the game.

While a serviceable 3-point shooter, great passer, crafty dribbler, and versatile defender, what is most impressive about Gilgeous-Alexander’s game his is ability to finish around the rim. Regardless of the size of the defender contesting his shot, he always finds a way to use angles, adjust his body, and spin on the ball off the glass the right way to finish the shot. 

Mike Muscala spoke after the game about Gilgeous-Alexander’s finishes around the rim, giving high praise while saying, “It’s really impressive, he’s one of the finishers I’ve ever seen play.”

Chris Paul cut Muscala off after this quote, jokingly saying he was wrong. Later on when Paul was asked about this, he continued to joke saying, “He can finish, I mean he’s great at drawing fouls but it’s even better if he goes to the free throw line and makes his free throws. He missed two in a row tonight, you know what I mean? Somebody’s gotta keep him humble if everyone’s gonna talk about how good he is.”

With a season and a half of sample size, it’s fair to say that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be one of the best players in the 2018 class, but how high? It certainly looks like he has the potential to be top-five or even top-three, which is much better than his original draft position. Only time will tell, but Oklahoma City has a versatile guard in Gilgeous-Alexander who will be exceptional for many years to come. 

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