When the historic trade of Paul George for Shai Gigeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and a truck load of draft capital from the Clippers shook the NBA world, few projected the amount of talent that said draft assets could manage to turn into — Especially when you consider how early it is in the OKC Thunder’s rebuilding phase.
Seen as the centerpiece in the blockbuster trade, George, who was a MVP candidate the season before he got traded out of the OKC Thunder, had 18 points in the first leg of the Thunder-Clippers baseball style series before falling to a knee injury in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter that forced him to miss Thursday’s game, and eventually the rest of the NBA season.
OKC Thunder continue to see the benefit of the Paul George trade that landed the Clippers Kawhi Leonard and a near MVP.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — the young promising piece bestowed to the Thunder in the trade — continued his stellar play in his first All-Star season with 31 and 30 points, respectively, in the two contests, in which the Thunder went 1-1.
It was the 40th and 41st game in which Gilgeous-Alexander dropped at least 30 points this season as he has averaged 31 points per game, leading the Thunder to a 36-37 record, being in the postseason race in late March, a surprise ending for this season.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shot 55 percent in the two games in Los Angeles and had a combined 11 rebounds and seven assists, including a three-block tally in the second game.
Meanwhile, Jalen Williams — the player picked by the OKC Thunder through the unprotected 12th pick from the Clippers a year ago — established himself further as a cornerstone of the team, racking up 20 and 16 points on consecutive games against L.A.
His offensive strides were apparent for the 21-year-old rookie, despite the resistance from the Clippers’ slew of wing defenders. He shot 15-of-27 from the floor and recorded an impressive true shooting percentage of 64 percent across the two games.
Jalen Williams (36 points) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (61 points) were the two leading total scorers in the two matchups against the Clippers.
Sophomore Tre Mann, who was also selected with a pick via the Clippers, only saw action in the second game, playing just nine minutes when the game was salted away for L.A.
For now, the trade is seen through the lens of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s meteoric rise and Jalen Williams’ star potential. Their offensive growth provides the Thunder an astounding foundation for the future, thanks in large part to the Paul George trade.
Making the most of what they’ve convened, the Thunder’s side of the George trade is looking more and more bright than what was first perceived.
However, the trade is not written in stone yet. There are still more NBA Draft picks to head the Thunder’s way in this process.
For the Clippers, they ensured Superstar Kawhi Leonard would ink a deal with them by trading for Paul George, and winning just one NBA title, if they can ever get their health aligned, would make this all worth it.
Whatever the future holds for the Thunder, this trade, which ushered a new era of OKC Thunder basketball, will always receive a passing grade.