Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – seeded 4th in first All-Star Game returns

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scores career-best 44 vs. Pelicans. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scores career-best 44 vs. Pelicans. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

The first returns are in for the NBA 2023 All-Star Game with OKC Thunder superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the mix but needing help if he wants to be a starter.

While winning is definitely a factor, popularity is the bigger decider, especially when it comes to fan votes.

And that’s not even to suggest that Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t popular among fans — it’s more a factor of players who get major exposure on National TV.

SGA is sort of in a Catch-22 since once a player appears in an All-Star Game they gain exposure for fans to then know and vote for them. But first, you have to appear in that game and play enough for fans to remember going forward.

Although there were some questionable entries in both Conferences that speak to “popularity” it was more evident in the Western Conference.

To wit, three of the five top vote-getters for the frontcourt in the initial return are all out injured: Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson, and Andrew Wiggins ranked behind LeBron James and Nikola Jokic.

AD has missed 10 games, Zion is expected to be out at least a month and Wiggs is just returning to practice after missing the last 15 games.

First All-Star Game fan voting returns place OKC Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander fourth among guards

The guards’ initial return features Stephen Curry (2.7M)  and Luka Doncic (2.38M) leading the way and while Ja Morant and SGA are third and fourth on the list they are both over a million votes behind Steph and Luka.

Granted fans’ votes only count for 50 percent but I’m not sure the players and media won’t follow suit.

That said, let’s not let that likelihood hamper our efforts. Make sure to vote daily to send SGA to the 2023 All-Star Game taking place in Salt Lake City with the Utah Jazz playing host.

Visit to vote and pick your starters for both Conferences.

Thunder Nation can vote simply to offer support to our cornerstone but there is also a body of work that supports selecting him to start:

Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 30.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.0 block per game. His shooting splits are 49.7% from the field on 20.6 attempts, 35.1% from deep on 2.9 attempts, and 91.5% from the stripe on 10.3 attempts per game.

In comparison, here are the stats for the three players ahead of him in voting:

Stephen Curry: 30.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per game with the holy grail of efficiency (50-40-90)  with 50.0 percent from the field on 20.2 attempts, 43.4 percent from deep on 11.6 attempts, and 91.9 percent from the stripe on 5.2 attempts.

Luka Doncic: averaging 34.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Doncic is shooting 50.1% from the field (22.8 attempts), 35.2% from the perimeter (8.6 attempts), and 74.2% from the stripe (11.2 attempts).

Ja Morant:  averages 27.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.1 steals while attempting 20.8 field goals per game, 5.3 perimeter shots, and 8.4 free throws shooting 46.4%, 31.0%, and 75.0% respectively.

Of course, winning matters, and all three of these individuals are playing on teams seeded higher with the Grizzlies in second (25-13), the Mavs in fourth (22-17), and the Warriors in ninth (20-19). The OKC Thunder enters gameplay Friday sitting 13th in the West.

Curry has missed time with the shoulder injury but is getting reassessed this weekend so the 10 games he’s missed likely won’t factor in voting from the media or players.

At the end of the day, the fact SGA is in the conversation with this group is a win, but let’s not take our foot off the gas with voting.

If nothing else it’ll send a message to coaches to solidify his presence on the team as a reserve.

Next. SGA wants to break records. dark