The Oklahoma City Thunder lost a double-overtime heartbreaker to the Big 3-less Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, squandering what could have been a monumental win for the rebuilding team at home against a veteran squad, albeit not for lack of effort.
The Bucks, led by the continued resurrection of Brook Lopez, pulled out key defensive stops in the second period and leaned on both of their big men plus some quality free throw shooting to pull out the victory.
If there’s one plus to take out of the loss for the Thunder, it’s that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to play out of his damn mind, particularly when it comes to scoring the basketball.
It feels impossible not to be thrilled with the Thunder when they've got all these hard-working, exciting, and infectious young pieces. Love the effort by Dort here on the rebound, pushing the ball up after, and getting the rock to SGA for the lay-up over a great shot blocker pic.twitter.com/RuIWiGcxFj— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) November 10, 2022
SGA's game is as smooth as butter. pic.twitter.com/WJ5IaEPD0W— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) November 10, 2022
In what has been his best career campaign so far, SGA is now averaging 31.6 points (on insane 53.7% shooting), 4.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.5 blocks a contest. He’s knocking in only 32.1% from deep but making 94.8% from the foul stripe. Fantasy Basketball believers must be thrilled.
Good free throw shooting is historically a sign that a player can be efficient with his 3-point stroke. Save for last season’s 30% shooting from deep which feels like an outlier, SGA has averaged at least 34% from long range in his career.
Chances are that percentage will only increase as this season goes on, potentially unlocking even a higher ceiling for his incredible scoring prowess.
Some of the other data points attest to the stupefying production he has consistently displayed:
According to Cleaning The Glass (which accounts for quality game minutes and reduces the impact of garbage time), SGA is averaging 127.1 points per shot attempt per 100 possessions, which ranks in the 89th percentile of his position.
He’s averaging an effective FG% of 56% (83rd percentile in his position) and making 57.4% of his tw-pointers (83rd). He’s averaging 73% FG at the rim (89th), 45% in between 4 and 14 feet (56th), and 53% outside of 14 feet but inside the arc (89th).
The sample size is small (4 total attempts) but SGA is knocking in 50% of corner 3-balls, which could be an avenue for him to take advantage of, assuming the Thunder can surround him with players who can create shooting opportunities for him in those shooting zones.
SGA is also drawing shooting fouls on 13.5% of his offensive possessions, ranking 81 in terms of percentile. Given his near flawless shooting from the stripe, this is a major weapon.
Speaking of OKC, they are +13.5 in points scored per 100 possessions played on offense when the team’s best player is on the court.
The season is early and the numbers can skew differently in another 10 games or so, but so far, SGA has proven he is ready to take that next step in terms of becoming the kind of lethal scoring machine that every Playoff hopeful team needs.
The next step is to surround him with the pieces to catapult the statistics from just numbers to victories in the standings.