Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has grown a lot as a person, not just a player

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen Shai Gilgeous-Alexander grow as a player over the last year,  resulting in him being tabbed as a first-time NBA All-Star this season. Before flying out to Salt Lake City, I asked his longtime friend, Kentucky teammate, and current OKC Blue big man, Sascha Killeya-Jones, about seeing Gilgeous-Alexander grow as a player. Killeya-Jones was quick to point out SGA has grown a lot as a person, as well.

So when the media gathered around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the podium following the Western Conference All-Stars practice, I asked the 24-year-old to explain how he has grown as a person.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has grown a lot as a person, not just a player, over the last year, which helped him reach All-Star status.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has made a massive leap on the floor this season, scoring a career-best 30 points per game, pulling in four rebounds and five assists per tilt while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 34 percent from beyond the arc.

SGA is top three in points scored, top five in points per game, top five in steals, top ten in free throw percentage, tied for first in two-point field goals, leads the NBA in free throws made, and is sixth in player efficiency rating. In addition, his shooting splits are jaw-dropping, as he turns in 63 percent at the rim and 47 percent in the mid-range while hitting 37 percent of his non-corner triples.

There was never a doubt that the Kentucky product deserved his first All-Star nod this season, especially as the Thunder sit at the All-Star Break in possession of a playoff spot.

Despite us watching Gilgeous-Alexander break records, hit game-winners, and outright win the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball games, he has grown just as much off the floor and on it.

“I think leadership-wise, I have gotten a lot better.” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander told me, “A lot of it comes from the people around me, my inner circle, my girlfriend, my homies, making me grounded” he continued, “then my teammates, so fun to be around, keeping the situation light, keeping the situation fun, but at the same time they are competitive…ready to go to war.”

“Being around such a group of guys that I like has made my life ultimately happier, and everyone is happier,” the star told me with a smile.

That leadership has shown up in a big way for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is helping the second youngest team in NBA history grab hold of playoff contention, and the chemistry on and off the floor of Gilgeous-Alexander and his teammates is undeniable.

That is why SGA made it a point to be at the rising stars event on Friday Night to support Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams, “those are like my brothers above all, I am going to support them. They are at a point in their careers where support helps. And I just wanted to watch them. Usually, I get to play with them, I just wanted to watch them.” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander told me.

The max contract point guard has seen sizable growth on and off the floor, and it has helped put himself and the Thunder in their current positions.

Next. OKC Thunder stole the show at the Rising Stars event. dark