The 2022-23 season was a year of firsts for Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, first year fighting for a play-in spot as the unquestioned team leader, first-time All-Star, and perhaps a first-time scoring champion.
The All-Star break is over, as the NBA returns today. Ironically SGA and the Thunder will battle the Utah Jazz in Saltlake City tonight. OKC has 25 games left; they set proudly in the West’s final spot in the play-in tournament. However, there could be something important for OKC’s newest first-time All-Star, the NBA’s coveted scoring title.
Can Shai Gilgeous-Alexander win the Scoring Title?
Currently, SGA ranks 5th in points per game at 30.8 PPG. He trails Damian Lillard 31.4 PPG, Giannis Antetokounmpo 31.8 PPG, Joel Embiid 33.1 PPG, and Luka Doncic 33.1 PPG. However, the race is even closer when looking at the leading scorer’s total points rather than points per game.
SGA is third in total points scored with 1635, Jayson Tatum is first with 1685, yet he ranks sixth in points per game. This is because he has appeared in 55 games for the Boston Celtics, ten more games than Embiid, who is second in PPG.
Just before the All-Star break, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s scoring had come back down to earth a bit, likely for multiple reasons from teams creating better defensive schemes to slow him down and possible fatigue from his heavy workload. However, if he returns rested tonight and can catch heat again, he could recapture the scoring lead over Doncic.
Should SGA Go for the Scoring Title?
Yes, SGA should go for his first scoring title as long as it does not become the main objective of the Thunder’s season, even if the Thunder make the play-in tournament or even the playoffs as a top-six team. They are not winning a title this season. When teams are not competing for championships, it is okay to chase personal accomplishments.
There will come the point where the Thunder’s only goal should be a title, and all individual statistics are secondary. However, that time is not now.
A bit more of an individual accolade for SGA, he is set to move into the top-four all-time in Thunder franchise history this evening, so long as he scores 25 points. Per Joe Mussatto’s chart, he is ready to move into the top three next season. This is exciting stuff for the young Thunder starlet considering he has played a fraction of the games OKC’s top trio of scorers did for the franchise.
Shai’s continued quest for the scoring title resumes tonight, it will be close, but I think he will ultimately capture his first scoring title. What do you think, Thunder Nation? Chime in the comments below or on social media.