Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a solid young piece for the Los Angeles Clippers before being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but NBA fans couldn’t have predicted his career trajectory going the way that it has.
The former no. 11 pick by the Charlotte Hornets (traded to Clippers on draft night), has been everything expected and more. Heading into his fifth year of his career, and the first of his max contract, Gilgeous-Alexander has the potential to land his first All-Star selection.
To show All-Star potential early in his career, and the Thunder rebuild, is impressive, as Gilgeous-Alexander will likely continue to prove as the rebuild progresses.
Last season, Gilgeous-Alexander posted totals of 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. Those statistics have the makings of an All-Star, and he would have been had there been less hurdles, including a loaded conference, losing record and lack of games played (56).
The other members of his draft class, though, have been incredibly impressive themselves. Luka Doncic, highly regarded as the best player in the draft, led his Dallas Mavericks to an incredible Western Conference Finals this year. The year before, Trae Young led the Atlanta Hawks to an Eastern Conference Finals. DeAndre Ayton played an integral role in the Phoenix Suns playing in the NBA Finals in 2021.
Needless to say, Gilgeous-Alexander has some incredible competition from the 2018 draft class. Had the draft happened with the understanding of what the players would accomplish – or how talented they’d become – it’s easy to say Gilgeous-Alexander would be a top-5 pick, depending on whether the team drafting wanted a wing, guard, or big. The only two guaranteed picks over Gilgeous-Alexander are Doncic and Young.
Beyond Doncic and Young, Michael Porter Jr. and Ayton would likely be in the mix for the next three picks. In a perimeter-oriented league, Gilgeous-Alexander becomes a legitimate contender for the third pick, which was owned by the Atlanta Hawks.
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Kade is a Strategic Communications student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He’s been covering the Oklahoma City Thunder since the 2019-20 season.