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) /
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OKC Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC Thunder (Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Shai’s passing ability isn’t great as good as a Luka Doncic or Trae Young, but he does show a great feel for the game and coupled with his high IQ, makes him a potentially dangerous passer as he gains more experience.

While Shai’s counting stats don’t stand out (3.3 assists in 27 minutes, 4.5 per 36) there are a few reasons on why they weren’t higher.

The Clippers ranked 18th in the NBA in assists per game last season (24.1) and 21st in assist rate (assists per field goals made). In addition to that SGA had a usage rate of 20 percent, which ranked in the 37th percentile of point guards last season, per Cleaning the Glass.

Despite this, Shai showed excellent court awareness and basketball IQ last season while facilitating in the half-court, especially the pick and roll where he ranked in the 58th percentile in PPP (points-per-possession) at 0.855, per Synergy Sports.

Gilgeous-Alexander passing ability last season:

A lot of you may have watched this occur live, but this play encapsulates Shai’s incredible court awareness for his age. In the closing seconds of a tight playoff game, the rookie dishes to Landry Shamet with a nifty pass in the air after Iguodala rotates over to contain his drive.

Here is Shai using his length and IQ to hit Harrell on the roll for the easy dunk (with his left hand), you can easily envision Steven Adams in Harrell’s role next season

Crosscourt pass to the wide open shooter Shamet

Beautiful pass out of the pick and roll by SGA by swinging it to a wide open Tobias Harris, dare I say Chris Paul-esque?

Another example of SGA’s pick and roll passing ability, hitting a wide open Boban  Marjanovic after the roll defenders collapse on him while driving

While I don’t see Shai possessing the upside of being one of the top five passers in the league, he has already shown veteran savvy and excellent court awareness during his rookie season when setting up teammates for easy looks.

Finally, let’s take a look at one of SGA’s main attractions, his defense.