The Oklahoma City Thunder won another contest last night spearheaded by the individual brilliance of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who should be on his way to a first NBA All-Star Game appearance next month in Salt Lake City, Utah.
SGA led the Thunder in their triumph against the Dallas Mavericks with 33 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal. It was his third straight outing with at least 30, upping his average for the season to 30.9 per game, which ranks 4th best in the NBA.
Gilgeous-Alexander is also averaging 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.1 blocks a contest. He has been efficient from the field, shooting 49.8% overall, 34.7% from downtown, and 91.3% from the foul stripe.
Shai has become one of the NBA’s best isolation and mid-range operators, a walking bucket who has the ability to contribute in other areas of the game even when he has an off night. It is a rare occurrence but Gilgeous-Alexander adds value for the Thunder all over the court.
The first All-Star tally returns have SGA as the fourth leading vote-getter from the Western Conference backcourt options, trailing Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, and Ja Morant – three established NBA franchise players who have made deep playoff runs.
It will not be long before SGA joins that category and earns the honour that only a select few players enjoy every season.
The voting process for starters is determined by multiple factors, popularity and big market media attention are both huge factors. Players who largely exist outside of the national conscious find it harder to connect with the casual fan.
But when the All-Star reserves are announced, the group selected by NBA coaches, Gilgeous-Alexander should certainly make the list.
You can even add competitive basketball to the list of reasons why SGA should make the game. The Thunder are not close to the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes as some might have thought after lottery pick Chet Holmgren went down with a foot injury. OKC are instead just currently two games behind the LA Clippers for the 6th seed in the West.
At the halfway point of the season, Oklahoma City are in the mix for the play-in or perhaps even a playoff spot thanks in large part to the brilliance of their young superstar.
The 24-year-old began his NBA season as the fresh breakout candidate, the guy who finally makes the leap from good to great and has kept up with that pace as we enter a new NBA calendar year. He has shown no signs of slowing down either.
It is only right that a spectacular season from Shai includes a trip to the annual get-together of the NBA’s brightest stars, a designation he now rightfully deserves.