Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to gain praise from NBA peers

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

The OKC Thunder have seen Shai Gilgeous-Alexander break out as one of the best young scorers in the NBA. The Thunder watched as the Kentucky product produced 31 points per game, nearly five rebounds, and five assists per contest. He did so as the go-to guy for the Oklahoma City Thunder while remaining effective, shooting 51 percent from the floor, 34 percent from beyond the arc, and 90 percent at the charity stripe. The 25-year-old was fantastic at getting to his spots and dominating at the rim as well as in the mid-range.

As an overall offensive player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander produced 1.05 points per possession, including 1.021 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball handler (one of the best in the league), and in isolation, he shot a jaw-dropping 45 percent from the floor to the tune of 1.248 points per possession. Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the best rim finishers for his position, shooting 47 percent at the cup, nailing 46 percent of his mid-range jumpers, and hitting home 37 percent on non-corner threes.

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to receive high praise from NBA peers. Does he have the “deepest bag” in the NBA?

This week alone, NBA Champion, defensive ace Bruce Brown, and Grant Williams have raved about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Grant Williams joined his new Dallas Mavericks teammate, Theo Pinson, on his “Run your race” podcast, where the two debated who has the deeper bag between Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Mavericks Star Luka Doncic.

Theo Pinson asked Donovan Mitchell on a previous podcast who had the deepest bag in the NBA, and he unabashedly said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Grant Williams was put on the spot to debate his new star teammate and the OKC Thunder star.

“Luka [Doncic], how many game winners he has had is absurd. Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] has a more of a, he gets to the mid-range and just gets his shot off, Luke is the best counterpuncher in the league…I got Luka, I think Luka has more game-winners and counter stuff, that step-back to his left, I do not know if I have ever seen it stopped, and it is just the same thing over and over and over again. Whereas with Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander], he is working for the buckets, maybe to [Shai Gilgeous-Alexander] he is now, but you [as the defender] at least feel like you are making him work.” the new Dallas Mavericks forward explains.

During a watch-along livestream of the NBA Finals, Theo Pinson brought Cleveland Cavs star Donovan Mitchell on the show, where he presented the same question. Mitchell eventually settled on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander having the deepest bag in the NBA. The process first pitted Kevin Durant against Luka Doncic, where Mitchell picked Doncic. Then, Pinson put the Mavs star against the Thunder star.

“I got to go Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander], Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] got counters upon counters, I mean, they both do…That is why I think Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] is impressive because he doesn’t really shoot three’s like that.” Donovan Mitchell explained.

This is on the heels of Bruce Brown, one of the top wing defenders in the league, calling Shai Gilgeous-Alexander the toughest player in the NBA to defend. While this debate will rage on for years, and it has never and will never have consensus, it is incredible that the OKC Thunder have a player in this conversation.

The Oklahoma City guard has a case for being one of the best scorers, with the “deepest bag” in the NBA, with his difficult shot-making, the way he can contort his body, put pressure on the rim, and open up the game for his teammates with the drive-and-kick. There is no denying that Gilgeous-Alexander was one of the best scorers in the NBA this past season.

Ultimately, no matter who you pick, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is genuinely in the conversation. He has a seat at the table for the best scorer in the NBA debate. With how bright the future is in Oklahoma City and Gilgeous-Alexander hitting his prime, the anticipation for this season is sky-high.

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