When the Oklahoma City Thunder blew up their team at the conclusion of the 2019 season and shipped away Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a package headlined by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a boatload of picks, the Thunder entered a lengthy rebuild in the hopes of nabbing a game-changer at the top of future NBA drafts.
However, it seems as if SGA himself has turned into the elite two-way star the Thunder needed as they look to make their way back to contention. In fact, in the process of putting up gaudy statlines to begin the 2022-23 campaign, he is etching his name alongside franchise greats Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander joined KD and Russ as the only players in Thunder franchise history to score at least 35 points and dish out at least five dimes in three straight games, per ESPN Stats & Info. Kevin Durant, the 2013-14 NBA MVP, did the feat once in 2014, while Russell Westbrook, the 2016-17 NBA MVP, had four such stretches in the past.
On the season, Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging eye-popping numbers of 32.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists on elite 50-40-90 shooting splits. In addition, SGA is using his size and length at the guard positions to be disruptive on defense, adding 1.9 steals and 1.4 blocks to his nightly contributions.
After Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's game-winning stepback three over the Washington Wizards, the Thunder moved to 7-8 on the season – not too shabby, especially given the expectations surrounding the team this season. The Thunder should only go up from here us well.
The expected, continued improvements of youngsters such as Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort, and Aleksej Pokusevski (who has been emerging as a two-way force in recent games) should give SGA a plethora of weapons. The return of Chet Holmgren next season should only bode well for the team as well.
Nonetheless, the Thunder's fate in recent seasons appears to be in SGA's hands, and with his elite level of play to begin the year, OKC won't have it any other way.