Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander excited for a bigger role this season
The Oklahoma City Thunder had quite a few prominent contributors depart this offseason, leaving Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as one of the leaders on the roster. With the upcoming season on the horizon, Gilgeous-Alexander is thrilled for a bigger role with the Thunder, per Brandon Rahbar of the Daily Thunder.
Shai on being “the guy”: “Obviously it’s something I’m excited about. I’m ready to take advantage of the opportunity. I’m just thankful.”
— Brandon Rahbar (@BrandonRahbar) December 4, 2020
Over the course of the offseason, the Thunder kicked it off by trading Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a 2022 first-round pick.
Instead of keeping Oubre and Rubio though, the Thunder would trade both of them to teams who are competing for playoff spots. Oklahoma City and Sam Presti — the general manager of the Thunder — leaned into beginning a full makeover of the roster in the offseason.
Besides Paul, the Thunder also parted ways with Dennis Schroder, Steven Adams, and Danilo Gallinari. As a result, Gilgeous-Alexander will be tasked with becoming a more prominent member of the team this season.
In his second season in the NBA — first with the Thunder — Gilgeous-Alexander notched career-highs in points (19) and rebounds (5.9) per game. He was part of the trade before last season that sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.
While under the tutelage of Paul in the 2019-2020 season, the Kentucky product flashed a ton of potential. His ability to play both guard spots at 6-foot-5 is a valuable asset to have if you’re Oklahoma City. And despite the depleted roster of the Thunder, Gilgeous-Alexander is ready to shoulder more responsibility in his second year with the organization.
The Thunder were impressive this past season in the face of roster limitations and a belief that they would be crowded out of the playoffs, or would at least have to fight hard to get there. Now, after the team’s rebuilding effort, it’s going to be much more difficult to imagine OKC cracking the NBA postseason.
It’s a challenge Shai Gilgeous-Alexander relishes.