Ever since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Oklahoma City Thunder, he has blossomed into a superstar player. But he flashed star potential as a rookie with the Clippers during the 2018-19 season. In fact, former Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was so convinced that Gilgeous-Alexander was going to be a star that he was initially hesitant about trading him to the Thunder in the deal that brought Paul George to the Clippers as per Clemente Almanza of Thunder Wire.
Doc Rivers with some very high praise for SGA, who he coached his rookie season with the Clippers:
“The day we decided to make that move when I was in LA, I was not so sure about it — even though what we did was phenomenal… I kept thinking this kid's gonna be special.” pic.twitter.com/bjTJ8gN19b
— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) December 31, 2022
During Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s rookie season, he averaged 10.8 points per game, 2.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 36.7 from the three-point line. The Clippers made the playoffs that season as an underdog and managed to push the Golden State Warriors to six tough games in the first round. During that series, Gilgeous-Alexander put up 13.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range. It was that off-season that he was traded to the Thunder.
This season, Gilgeous-Alexander has continued his ascent as one of the NBA’s elite players. So much so that he’s been receiving MVP chants from fans and he drew a bold take from TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley. He has been putting up a career-high 31.4 points per game, 4.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from three-point range. It’s safe to say Doc Rivers knew what he was talking about.
The Thunder have actually been a rather surprising team with a 15-20 record and only two and a half games back of the Minnesota Timberwolves for 10th place in the Western Conference standings and a spot in the play-in tournament.