Shai Gilgeous-Alexander role in rotation will change post-injury

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder will get star point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander back tonight against the Utah Jazz after SGA cleared the league’s health and safety protocols. The Thunder are looking to sweep the baseball-style series against the Utah Jazz in the Paycom Center on Sunday after beating Utah on Friday to snap a five-game losing streak.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will look to continue his All-NBA campaign on Sunday after earning his first NBA All-Star bid earlier this season. SGA has played in 54 games for the Thunder this season, averaging 31 points, four rebounds, five rebounds, a steal, and a block per game.

The Oklahoma City Thunder will change Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s role as he manages his abdominal injury.

With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander set to make his return, Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault was asked if the star Kentucky product would be on any minutes restrictions. The Thunder bench boss had this to say:

“The missed time was health and safety protocols. We were prepared to manage him with the abdominal strain. The abdominal is a tricky area; it’s a situation where if this happened earlier in the season, the solution for it is rest. So if this was October, we would be resting him and getting it completely healed. It’s not October, and we only have x amount of games left. So what we are going to do is manage it, which will be a little bit tricky, and it’s going to require us to modify some things. So we are going to have to look at back-to-backs, and we are going to have to look at his rotation. So you’re going to see a little bit of a different approach on our end of things with him. Starting tonight, rotationally, he is typically playing long stretches of minutes in the first and the third, that’ll change tonight and will probably change moving forward. Then we just have to see how he responds. Then like I said, we also are going to have to look with how condensed the schedule is at opportunities to do injury maintenance when necessary. That’s the best we can do right now, with the circumstances. But we are happy to have him back.”

This move allows the Thunder to stay competitive while balancing the health of their max contract move. This is a situation every team around the NBA has to manage, and further proof that the organization wants to finish out this season “naturally.”

The OKC Thunder could have easily shut down Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the rest of the season, as Mark Daigneault explained, the only way to recover from this abdominal strain is rest. Instead, Gilgeous-Alexander can still help OKC in the NBA Play-in chase, and try to solidify his All-NBA nod.

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