Shai Gilgeous-Alexander excited to join LA Clippers and lead new era
LOS ANGELES – By the end of the 2018 NBA Draft, it was evident how desperately the LA Clippers coveted point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. With the Phoenix Suns strongly interested in trading their 16th pick to the Charlotte Hornets in order to acquire Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA stepped in, one-upped the Suns with their 12th pick as well as a pair future second-round picks, and acquired the Kentucky point guard.
But who is Gilgeous-Alexander? A guy who hadn’t publicly worked out for any teams, but was declared one of the best, if not the best, point guards in the Draft, Gilgeous-Alexander wanted to play for the Clippers.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Gilgeous-Alexander to ClutchPoints immediately after being drafted. “Just being able to play in the NBA. That’s first and foremost. Being drafted to a team you feel like you fit well and you really wanted to go to is an even better feeling.
“My workout with them was really good. I felt really good with their coaching staff and their front office. I feel like they’re in need for what I bring to the table, so I can’t wait.”
Gilgeous-Alexander knew he wanted to be a Clipper after his first meeting with head coach Doc Rivers, President Lawrence Frank, consultant Jerry West, and other members of the front office in Chicago. Specifically, however, the Kentucky guard pointed to Coach Rivers as a significant reason for his wanting to be a member of the Clippers.
“He’s a player’s coach,” said Gilgeous-Alexander of Rivers. “He relates really well to his players. After the meeting, the workout, and the dinner, I felt really good. I was cracking jokes with them and felt really comfortable with them really early. That’s a really good sign. I can’t wait to get coached by him. He’s done good with PG’s in the past, turning [Rajon] Rondo into an All-Star, Chris Paul is an All-Star, and he knows what it takes. I can’t wait to be under his wing.”
Gilgeous-Alexander played one year at Kentucky under renowned head coach John Calipari, averaging 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.6 steals on 48.5 percent shooting from the field and 40.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. In three games during the NCAA tournament, he upped his efforts, averaging 20.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. So what does he now believe he can bring to the Clippers?
“Playmaking ability, defending, and leadership. Those are my three biggest strengths and I plan to work on my game and turning them in elite strengths; to turn my weaknesses into my strengths and eventually elite strengths. That way, I can end up being the most complete player I can be.”
If Clippers fans haven’t seen it yet in his college days, Gilgeous-Alexander prides himself on being a leader, and he fully expects to be able to bring that alpha-dog mentality to a team that already features the likes of Patrick Beverley.
“I feel like they don’t have an alpha dog at point guard right now. I’m a guy that brings ultimate leadership to the group, and I feel like thats one of my biggest attributes. That’s what I bring to the table.
“My competitive nature and my leadership. Those things make me an alpha dog. No matter what stage or level you’re at, having those two things will take you right to the top.”
Gilgeous-Alexander is already salivating at the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot as opposed to playing for a low-end lottery team.
“I’m really excited,” added Gilgeous-Alexander. “I’m a competitor, and I love to win. LA has a couple of really good pieces right now in place, and I think me and Jerome stepping in right away will make them better and hopefully we get to the playoffs to contend. I’m a competitor and I love to compete and win.”