The Future of the OKC Thunder, an in-depth analysis of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC Thunder (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC Thunder (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
2 of 4
OKC Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC Thunder (Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

While Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t a Trae Young or Luka Doncic caliber scorer at this point in their respective careers, he has the potential to become a good but not great scorer for his position.

Here is Shai compared to other top rookie guards last season:

Advanced Table
Rk Player Season Age TS% 3PAr FTr
1 Luka Dončić 2018-19 19 .545 .433 .409
2 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 2018-19 20 .554 .194 .272
3 Collin Sexton 2018-19 20 .520 .245 .211
4 Trae Young 2018-19 20 .539 .384 .330

Provided by View Original Table

As you can see, Shai was the most efficient rookie guard last season according to True Shooting percentage. Shai’s 3-point shot showed potential last season as he shot 36.7 percent from deep, but he took them at a much lower rate than his contemporaries. He ranked in the 54th percentile in spot up shooting last season and was tied with Doncic for first among the top rookie guards in two-point percentage, at 50.3 percent according to Basketball Reference.

3-Pointers attempted per 36 (top rookie guards):

Sexton: 4.1 per game

Doncic: 8.0 per game

Young: 6.9 per game

Gilgeous-Alexander: 2.3 per game

While Shai has yet to attempt trey’s at a league-average rate (35.9 percent of shots compared to Shai’s 19.4 percent) his shot mechanically looks fine and his free throw percentage has been 80 percent plus over his past two full seasons (College and NBA) which indicates that he should become at least a league-average shooter from distance (35.5 percent).

On shots considered “open” by (closest defender within 4 or more feet), Shai shot 39.3 percent from the perimeter which is an additional indicator in his potential shooting ability. Check out his shot chart from last season courtesy of @AustinClemons2 website.

4ef062bb22e7a80c5e1e15abdbfde6de /

According to Cleaning the Glass, Shai ranked in the 60th percentile of point guards in mid-range shooting and in the 62nd percentile of points per shot attempt. Even if Shai never develops a consistent 3-point shot, he has found other ways to score as he was ranked in the 91st percentile for isolation scoring (1.089 points per possession) as a rookie per Synergy Sports.

Lacking top tier athleticism and elite burst, Shai still manages to use his high IQ and length to maneuver around a good defender in Torrey Craig for the layup

Creating own shot off the dribble with the nice step-back jumper

Using his size over a smaller point guard in De’Aaron Fox to shoot over him

Here’s Shai doing something that Russell Westbrook tried to do quite often, post up smaller defenders and shoot over the top. While Steph certainly isn’t small by any means (6’3 190) Shai has the ability to use his three additional inches in height and shoot over him

An example of SGA’s already advanced IQ, using the slight push off at the end to get an easy layup up over Shaun Livingston (who he is often compared to)

Nice catch and shoot trey vs Golden State in the playoffs (where he shot 9-18 from downtown)

Shai shows the potential to become a 15-17 point per game scorer down the road with an uptick in usage and shot attempts. Perhaps he could even jump to 20 points if he develops a consistent 3-point shot at a reasonable volume.

Next, let’s take a look at Shai’s playmaking ability.