Five way too early bold predictions for the OKC Thunder upcoming season

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Los Angeles Clippers (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ascends to one of the best young guards in the league

This may seem overly optimistic, but hear me out.

Gilgeous-Alexander is coming off a strong rookie campaign where he started 73 games for a playoff team in the Los Angeles Clippers. Shai ended up on second Team All-Rookie after averaging over 10 points a game, two rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes.

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Considering the fact Gilgeous-Alexander was starting and playing for a competitive playoff team his rookie season, you don’t have to worry about him putting up empty stats on a bad team.

Do I think he’ll ever enter the tier of young players like Jokic, Embiid, KAT, or Giannis? No. But I think he could join the likes of players such as DeAaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Jamal Murray as they are not quite the elite of the elite, but really good players who have the potential to have a few All-Star appearances under their belt.

Gilgeous-Alexander already provides an advanced feel for the game in a way few young guards do. He makes excellent decisions in the PnR and has advanced finishing packages at the rim that give him the ability to finish around bigger defenders that most players lacking elite athleticism like himself would struggle with.

One thing Gilgeous-Alexander is going to have to improve on is his jump shot. While the percentages don’t look bad (36.7 percent from three) he did this on low volume (1.7 a game). Alexander’s splits are very confusing to assess because in three of the seven months he played, he shot over 45 percent from deep, and in three other months, he shot below 28 percent. However, after the All-Star break, Shai shot 43.8 percent from the perimeter as he finished off the season on a high note.

Gilgeous-Alexander had his coming out party in the 1st round vs the Warriors where he averaged 13.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists on 59.6 percent true shooting. Gilgeous-Alexander had two games over 20 points vs the defending champs including a 22 point, 5 rebound, 6 assist performance in game six.

While Shai certainly is not perfect, (needs to bulk up + he really struggled offensively in January/February) there is a good chance he becomes an All-Star one day. The question is, will that be a one-time thing or multiple times? I see him developing into a Jrue Holiday type player, who has seemingly become underrated on offense and provides elite perimeter defense at either the point or shooting guard position.

Coincidentally, Shai idolized Chris Paul growing up in terms of how he plays and operates in the PnR, and now he gets a chance to learn from one of the best of this generation and a player he reveres.

The ideal scenario is for Shai to make a De’Aaron Fox type leap into his second year but, Fri Lavey of wrote a piece on how unprecedented Fox’s leap was from his freshmen to sophomore season.