The OKC Thunder have sent many players to the 2023 FIBA World Cup this summer to represent their countries in a variety of capacities. Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams helped Team USA practice as Team USA select members, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Jack White, and Josh Giddey will get the chance to represent their countries in the tournament.
All eyes will be on Team Canada as they begin their exhibition slate on August 9th. Led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Canadians have one of the best teams in the field, littered with NBA players such as Lu Dort, Jamal Murray, RJ Barrett, and more. With Team USA not sending their best and various injuries and circumstances limiting the rest of the field, it would be pretty surprising if Gilgeous-Alexander did not lead Team Canada to a tournament victory.
The OKC Thunder might have the best player in the FIBA World Cup field, according to ESPN Analyst.
“The Canadians enter this tournament, arguably with the single best player in the entire field, in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He’s as good, or better than Luka Doncic and anybody the American team has,” ESPN’s Tim Bontemps said on a SportsCenter hit. He then doubled down on that take on his podcast, The Hoop Collective.
Bontemps, on his second platform discussing this matter, said definitively “Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the best player in this tournament. I think he has a chance to be an MVP.” he was cut off by Brain Windhorst for this take so that Windhorst could point out Doncic is playing in this tournament, to which Bontemps replied “[Shai Gilgeous-Alexander] was better than Luka [Doncic] last year!”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a fantastic year in 2022-23, playing in 68 games averaging 31.4 points, nearly five rebounds, five assists, and 2.6 STOCKS per game while shooting a jaw-dropping 51 percent from the floor, shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc, and 90 percent at the free throw line.
Gilgeous-Alexander finished fifth in MVP voting, was tabbed as a first-team All-NBA member, and got his first All-Star nod during the 2022-23 campaign while lifting the OKC Thunder to 40 wins with a postseason bid.
While many will struggle to put Shai Gilgeous-Alexander over Luka Doncic, this is not the first time this debate has been brought up this offseason. If nothing else, it just shows the development of Gilgeous-Alexander that this is even a talking point.