With Ja Morant being suspended for the first 25 games of the season, it changes the award season for the entire NBA.
The Oklahoma City Thunder saw Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have a breakout season. While everyone in Bricktown understood that Gilgeous-Alexander was an All-Star caliber player, it is revisionist history to say everyone believed the Kentucky product would become this so soon.
This time last year, as the OKC Thunder were embarking on the second overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, many questioned if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could be a number one option. Could he be the guy for a franchise? For this franchise?
The max contract point guard put that to rest as he averaged 31 points, four rebounds, and five assists while swatting a shot per game and swiping 1.6 steals on the defensive end of the floor. While turning in shooting splits of 51/34/90, Gilgeous-Alexander earned first-team All-NBA honors, his first All-Star appearance, and finished fifth in MVP voting.
His path to repeating that All-NBA season became more apparent on Friday as the league suspended Ja Morant. After those 25 games missed, Morant will no longer qualify for NBA Awards for the 2023-24 season. Morant will not be able to reach the 65 games played minimum needed to qualify for awards.
As part of that rule change, All-NBA teams are now position-less, so this not only helps fellow guards but every top player in the association. However, not having to battle a fellow young All-NBA guard for a spot does increase Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s ability to repeat.