The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the biggest pleasant surprises of this NBA season. Not long ago perceived to be in the running for generational 2023 prospect Victor Wembanyama, the Thunder have been a surprisingly competitive, hard-playing team. Despite losing five of their last six games, the Thunder are 8-13 and just two and a half games back of a play-in spot. 

But Oklahoma City will have to try for a win Wednesday against the Spurs without its best player. Per the team’s injury report, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will reportedly sit out due to a hip injury he sustained during Monday’s loss to the Pelicans. 

Gilgeous-Alexander, 24, has established himself as one of the top guards in the NBA this season. He’s averaging 31.1 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.9 rebounds across 20 games while shooting 50.6% from the field and 33.9% from three-point range. Gilgeous-Alexander has improved his ability to get to the free-throw line by leaps and bounds since he first entered the pros, as he’s averaging a career-high 9.3 free-throw attempts per game this season.

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Usually, not having Gilgeous-Alexander in the lineup would spell trouble for the Thunder’s chances of picking up a win. However, the Spurs own the second-worst record in the Western Conference and are currently riding a league-worst eight-game losing streak. So even with their best player out of the lineup, the Thunder are the better team. Plus, they’re at home — thus, they should be able to come away with the win. Expect guys like Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort, and Jalen Williams to have big nights in SGA’s absence.