OKC Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander historic response to Donovan’s challenge

JANUARY 13: Dennis Schroder #17 pours water in celebration on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder on the court after the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
JANUARY 13: Dennis Schroder #17 pours water in celebration on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder on the court after the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder coach Billy Donovan challenged Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to do more and be more aggressive. The sophomore responded with a performance of historic proportions.

In the wake of another impressive OKC Thunder victory, we’re still digesting the historic performance of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Following arguably the worst performance by the Thunder this season in a loss to the undermanned Lakers head coach Billy Donovan gave his young star some pregame advice — to do more.

Postgame, Gilgeous-Alexander elaborated stating Billy Donovan asked him to do more and attack first. As per the video below from FOX Sports

"“Coach just challenged me before the game to fill up the stat sheet, he knows what I’m capable of and challenges me every day. And I just wanted to step up to the challenge personally.”"

Specifically, Gilgeous-Alexander registered his first career triple-double and it wasn’t just of the 10-10-10 variety. Rather, SGA shattered his previous high for rebounds collecting 20 on the night to go along with 20 points and 10 assists.

Want to know how big a deal this was? Prior to this point in SGA’s career not only had he never checked off a triple-double he’d only registered two double-doubles. Last season with the Clippers he delivered a 14 point, 10 assist effort against Brooklyn and just recently produced a 19 point, 10 rebound effort versus the Mavericks.

The most assists he dished this season was six and those 10 he collected versus the Nets last season were the most in his career.

As for those 20 rebounds, prior to this effort, Shai had a handful of nine rebound games, a few eight rebound efforts and the 10 against the Mavericks. So grabbing 20 rebounds was in another stratosphere.


In terms of where SGA’s performance ranks in the history books there are quite a few checkmarks to note:

  • Russell Westbrook is the only other OKC Thunder to register a triple-double that included 20 in two stat categories. For those who don’t recall it was the April 2nd game versus the Lakers last season which Russ dedicated to friend Nipsey Hussle who had died via a senseless murder. To honor his friend Westbrook delivered a triple-double of 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 21 assists. The significance of the 20 in each category was Hussle’s ties to the Rollin 60’s.
  •  Westbrook and SGA are the only guards in the last 30 seasons to record a triple-double that includes 20 points and 20 rebounds.
  • As noted by Elias Sports (above)  SGA becomes the youngest player to deliver the 20 point, 20 rebound triple-double usurping Shaquille O’Neal.
  • SGA joins a shortlist of O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Oscar Robertson as only the fourth player in his second year to deliver a triple-double that included 20 points and 20 rebounds.

The deeper takeaway from this effort is performances like tonight remind fans we truly have no idea how high this youngsters ceiling is. The nice part is he already delivers consistently with solid scoring and rebounding.

He is playing on a team full of talented ball handlers and playmakers so those assists can be even more difficult to tally up. Big man Steven Adams is a savant on the boards along with Danilo Gallinari who pitches in to help clean the glass.

The key takeaway here is SGA’s potential at this stage has no ceiling. What an amazing time to be an OKC Thunder fan with a young star of this ilk on the team.

Thunder blast Wolves via spectacular individual efforts – grades. dark. Next

From the writing team at Thunderous Intentions – we applaud and congratulate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on his benchmark and entry into the history books. Well done SGA — well done!