The Oklahoma City Thunder are currently in a rebuilding stage. Given that, they’ve already handed over the keys in the offense to their budding young star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Card collectors definitely have had their eye on him, but here’s why he deserves more attention even as the Thunder remain near the bottom of the standings.
Amassing a ginormous stockpile of 19 1st round picks and 16 2nd rounds picks in the next seven years, it’s in Sam Presti’s plans that Gilgeous-Alexander is their main man to build around with all of that in the future. The 22-year-old Ontario native was acquired through the Paul George deal in the summer of 2019, alongside Danilo Gallinari, five 1st round picks, and two pick swaps.
Mentored under future Hall of Fame lock Chris Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander showed the flashes of a superstar in the making in his 1st year with the Thunder. Averaging 19.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists a contest, in a stacked back-court shared with both Paul and Dennis Schroder. Where the Thunder would eventually reach a playoff berth as the 5th seed in the Western Conference, despite the 0.3% chance ESPN had projected for them at the start of the 2019-20 season.
With the departure of winning veterans such as Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams leading up to the 2020-21 season, it has been a blessing in disguise for this young Thunder team. Led by Gilgeous-Alexander, the young Thunder have now had a chance to blossom and show off their potential. Emerging prospects such as Darius Bazley and Luguentz Dort, along with rookies Aleksej Pokusevski and Theo Maledon have taken a more active role within the team.
This season, Gilgeous-Alexander has stepped on the gas pedal significantly. Having averages of 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists a night, he was even in the race for an All-Star spot this year. He just missed the cut due to record disparity, but the case was definitely there to have him as the injury replacement instead of Utah Jazz veteran Mike Conley Jr.
With Gilgeous-Alexander tying and surpassing his previous career-high of 32 points last season, on several occasions this year. While also ranking inside the top 25 for both the assists and points category in the league, it should come as no surprise Gilgeous-Alexander will continue to be a problem in the long run for opposing teams.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s recent performance
It’s been incredibly tough sledding for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s card collectors as of late. He started the season firing on all cylinders, and only seemed to get better as the months went by. But then, the Thunder star got bit by the injury bug in late March. SGA was out of commission for the long-term, as confirmed by his coach Mark Daigneault.
Thunder G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to be out for extended period with right foot plantar fasciitis:
Mark Daigneault: "It's not day-to-day, it's going to be a more significant amount of time…this one is an injury that we need to take a look at" (1) pic.twitter.com/CoDbPIuLIR
— Bryan Keating (@KOCOKeating) March 25, 2021
With the Thunder having less than zero incentive to rush him, there’s little chance we see SGA play any significant action until late in the season. The good news is, the Thunder may bring him back towards the end of the year. If Shai can pump in a few big games and remind the market that he’ll be a fool-proof star in the coming seasons, then a late bump may be coming.
The card market
Don’t let SGA’s injury fool you, Shai’s All-Star performances should reflect on his NBA card value sooner or later, being comparable to other top youngsters such as Ja Morant and Trae Young who have gotten a lot of hobby love, thus far. He is easily one of the most underrated and best investments you could make right now, with him also playing on a team with a bright future like the Thunder.
In mid March when he was healthy and putting up big numbers, his Prizm Silver RC graded PSA 10 was going for up to $1,700 with nothing below $1,200. Recent sales however have the price range for the same card closer to the $1,100 range.
The verdict on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander cards
Clearly, the time to buy Shai Gilgeous-Alexander cards is now, as he’s only getting better and better as time progresses. He’s taken massive leaps every year, and has proven that he could be a potent first option even without Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder by his side.
The Thunder are as well-positioned as any team in the NBA right now, with more draft picks than they even have roster spots within the next half-decade. But no matter what happens, this team is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s to own. Whoever comes along can become a star just as talented or even greater than SGA, but the heart and soul of the team belongs to its current centerpiece going forward.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander card collectors will be the first to tell you – they wouldn’t have it any other way.