Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Primed To Be OKC’s Point Guard Of The Future

Much attention has been given to all the picks that the Clippers sent to the Thunder in the Paul George trade but the franchise also received Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in addition to Danilo Gallinari. The Italian forward has just one season left on his deal but Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to remain with the franchise long-term and become the point guard of the future in Oklahoma City.

The 6’6″ point guard won’t yet take the reigns of the franchise, as future Hall of Famer Chris Paul remains on the roster. Whenever the Thunder decided to let SGA lead the team, he should be able to handle that role. He has believers both in the professional and collegiate levels. One former executive told Hoops Rumors that SGA was the more valuable than any player or asset among the presumed Anthony Davis contenders (Lakers, Clippers, Celtics, Knicks) earlier in the summer, topping the polished Jayson Tatum.

During the point guard’s lone season at Kentucky, coach John Calipari could see the potential in Gilgeous-Alexander, whose mother ran the 400-meter race for Canada at the 1992 Olympics. Calipari knew he was going to make it to the NBA.

“I looked at our [players] and said, ‘You guys know who’s the best in practice? Who comes every day? Who brings it? He does,’” Calipari said (via The Athletic’s Brett Dawson ). “I told them, ‘You know what? He’s making himself a lottery pick.’”

Calipari has coached several star point guards. Derrick Rose played under the coach at Memphis. John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and De’Aaron Fox are among the point guards to play under Calipari at Kentucky.

The latest Kentucky team made it to the Sweet 16 despite a lack of outside shooting. “By the end, he had just taken over the team,” Calipari said. “We won the games we won because of him.”

The Clippers didn’t get the opportunity to draft Gilgeous-Alexander, as the Hornets took him at No. 11. Los Angeles had to put a package together to acquire his draft rights. Calipari had spoken to Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell before the event, raving about SGA. “He’s the one,” Calipari told Cassell. “He’s the one in this draft.”

Gilgeous-Alexander had a strong rookie season in Los Angeles, playing a meaningful role for a team that overachieved and made the playoffs. SGA’s success didn’t shock those who had spent time with him.

“There was no real big learning curve for him when he went to the NBA, because he’d already been approaching everything as if he was a professional,” Kentucky’s assistant coach Joel Justus said.

“He was on time, he was early for class, he paid attention, he was respectful of everyone around the university, he was engaging with fans. Everything you see in guys that are successful at being a basketball player, on and off the floor, he had a very good grasp of before he even came to us.”

The Thunder’s rebuild is just beginning. With several veterans on the roster, the team could spend the 2019/20 competing for a playoff spot and SGA’s role as the leader of the team may have to wait. Regardless, Gilgeous-Alexander will be part of the future in Oklahoma City.

“If you’re gonna do what they’re gonna do, it’s gonna be about culture,” Calipari said. “It’s gonna be about, how quickly can these young guys create an environment that is gonna help us succeed — how we’re gonna play and how we’re gonna work and all that stuff. That’s what this is. That’s what he did for us.” 

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20 thoughts on “Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Primed To Be OKC’s Point Guard Of The Future

  1. petersdylan36

    As a clippers fan, I am excited for the pairing of George and Leonard. However, I really enjoyed watching Shai play. He is a great guy and OKC is lucky to have him

    • imindless

      Clippers are really overrated, just like when george resigned with okc everyone put them on as championship or bust. First round exit, george just isn’t a difference maker.

      • bravesfan88

        The Clippers are only overrated if PG13 is their primary man. He’s not. Kawhi is clutch personified, there’s no way Kawhi let’s the Clippers lose in the 1st round. He’s just that talented, and he has the supporting cast to make it happen..

        The ONLY way the Clippers lose in the 1st round is if Kawhi doesn’t play..It’s really that simple.

        Beverly, 6th man Lou, and Shamet areally all perfect compliments next to Kawhi and George. Then, you add in Chandler, Harkless, Green, Harrell, Zubac, and even McGruder, and they have an extremely versatile and solid 11 man rotation.

        They could possibly be outscored, but they very well could be one of the very best defensive teams over the last several years…They won’t get out-hustled, and their lengthy, skilled rotation will allow them the versatility and flexibility to mix and match against anyone.

        Even if Paul George isn’t completely healthy, he’s still a beast on defense, so is Kawhi, obviously. When healthy, Kawhi and George are two of the best two-way players in the league. I’d say Kawhi is the best, then you have KD, Klay, AD, Giannis, and Embiid, but right after that and probably right before Jimmy Butler there is Paul George. Don’t sell George short, because when he’s healthy, he’s worked his way up to being one of the top 7 most complete players in the NBA..

        • imindless

          Nah playoff outings of 6 points and 1st round exits speak otherwise lmao. Not efficient and not that great of a defender kuzma cooked him for 32 this year and 25 respectively.

          Ad is one of the top 3 best defenders in the league lol and the numbers back this up.

          Speaking on Kawhi he is massively overrated he beat a kd and klayless banged up warrior team had he have actually been confident in his feat he would have re-uped with raptors. He knew healthy warriors team it aint close. Not to mention the year he “clamped” lebron, lebron went on to average 28ppg 11 and 7 on 53% shooting lol kawhi is massively overrated.

          Again anyone could see that this pairing while good lacks any real threat up the middle….team like lakers, nuggets, jazz are gonna have field days inside. Ad, jokic, cousins and gobert are gonna clobber cement feet zubac and undersized harrell. I havent even mentioned shamet and williams awful defense +/- literally give up more baskets than they score.

      • “PaUl GeOrGe IsNt a DiFfErEnCe MaKeR” every salty for no reason Lakers/Lebron Stan

        • imindless

          Sure or you can just look to his playoff record and stats…but what do i know

          • Like, his extensive playoff record in Indiana before last year? See passed your recency bias.

  2. jirogers72

    I wonder if MJ regrets trading Shai for Bridges, especially with Walker gone. If he turns out to be something special, this will be another black mark on MJ’s ability to evaluate talent.

    • formerlyz

      The way I remember it, Charlotte liked SGA, but he angled himself away from certain teams

      • bravesfan88

        I recall a similar story, wasn’t it something about even going so far as refusing workouts??

        • x%sure

          He only worked out for the Clippers, and that wasn’t even revealed until later. When Charlotte found out, they picked him just for trading.

          Most scouts were not that high on SGA but a few people were insistent SGA belonged in the lottery despite his (phantom) shortcomings. IDK if Calipari was one. I was amazed seeing him in the NCAAs. Too many scouts had already formed a less impressed impression.

          • Z-A

            Every mock I saw had him going to the Clippers. I thought he may end up as a Sixer if they passed on Mikal.

            • x%sure

              Yes, IDK why teams give their intentions away by making draft promises. Once word gets out another team will take him just to extract (extort?) assets.

              OKC should have quite a team in a few years.

    • bravesfan88

      Really sick for Steve Adams…He’s a hell of a player and teammate..He certainly deserves better than to be a part of this rebuild, but I’d actually bet that Steve probably told OKC that he wanted to stay and help in the rebuild..That’s just the type of dude he is..

      Steve Adams, Joe Staley, and Josh Donaldson are all three of the coolest dudes in professional sports I have ever met…Plus, they’re all leaders in their locker rooms, and all three are extremely well respected by their peers. Definitely three of my favorite athletes, and just bad ases!! lol

      • phenomenalajs

        The Thunder actually look to be fairly competitive while amassing picks for the future. Even if they don’t trade Paul, they made a good deal by freeing up that additional max year owed to Westbrook. SGA could be the Aaron Rodgers to CP3’s Brett Favre. SGA could learn by backing up a future HOFer.

  3. Buckman

    My biggest problem with the Kawhi-PG13 “era” is their injury issues. Kawhi played two 70+ game regular seasons in a row for the 1st time and then played only 9. He only played 60 this year and was playing injured during the playoffs. George is recovering from injury. Both may be on “load management” this season. Combine this with the 2 year contracts they are on and the clips fans may walk away with a bad taste in their mouth. Right now, the potential reward seems worth the risk but odds are against success.

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