The Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in 2019 when they shipped Paul George to the L.A. Clippers in the middle of the night for a historic pile of draft picks. While those future draft selections stole the show, Gilgeous-Alexander quickly became a centerpiece of this move.
When the dust settled on the 2019 offseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled with veteran hall of famer Chris Paul at point guard, and often times ran three-guard lineups with Paul and Dennis Schroder joining Gilgeous-Alexander.
Chris Paul often reflects on his time in Oklahoma CityIt is impossible to do so without mentioning his strong relationship with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. It is impossible not to see the impact Paul had on Gilgeous-Alexander's game.
Their partnership was short-lived; only a season went by before Oklahoma City tossed the keys of the franchise to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, eventually making him a max contract point guard.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has remained loyal to Oklahoma City, and it is paying off now.
However, the Thunder's win-loss record was shakey after trading Paul, but that was to be expected. The Thunder were comfortable rebuilding around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and he has made it clear that was the right decision.
The Kentucky product quickly took massive strides in his game, collimating in his leap to superstardom a season ago. Gilgeous-Alexander made his first All-Star game appearance; he was tabbed to the First Team All-NBA and finished fifth in MVP voting.
Then, in the summertime, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dominated the FIBA World Cup, including knocking off Team USA in a medal game. The 31-point-per-game scorer from a year ago is picking up right where he left off this season, averaging 30 points per contest.
However, it has not been all sunshine and rainbows; the outside noise was loud from back-to-back 20-something win seasons. Media and fans trying to outsmart themselves, pondering, "Just how much winning can Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stand?"
Those questions were always silly but simply blew up in their face when the Thunder ripped off a surprising 40-win season a year ago without their lone top-five pick of this rebuild. Now, on the back of that play-in tournament appearance, the Thunder are the second seed in the Western Conference (13-6).
Regardless of the spiraling national narrative around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the superstar remained true to the organization, saying all the right things about his long-term future in Oklahoma City. He continued to do so this past week.
The Oklahoma City Thunder now have the brightest future in the NBA with an MVP-caliber player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a couple of rising stars in Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams, a ton of depth, a high-quality coach, and a mountain of future NBA Draft picks providing them to needed flexibility to build a contender.
It is all in front of Gilgeous-Alexander now, to be in control of one of 30 franchises, having his fingerprints all over an organization's future, and the assets to compete for a championship in the near future and for a long time.
While others tried to put words in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's mouth, the superstar stayed committed to OKC, and now it is paying off for him.