NBA players usually make sure to get up a little extra against the team that traded them. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander did that to a historic extent as his Oklahoma City Thunder took on the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
SGA was a man possessed, posting a dream stat-line for all of his fantasy basketball owners. 33 points on 50 percent shooting on the offensive end, making both three-point attempts and all nine of his free throw attempts. He also added eight assists, five rebounds and six combined blocks and steals. How's that for an all-around performance?
That mixture of efficiency and production places him in a league of his own in NBA history.
What's even more surprising is that Gilgeous-Alexander wasn't even expected to play. He was initially ruled as out the day prior after suffering a hip injury on Saturday's contest against the Denver Nuggets. He was upgraded to questionable just hours before the Clippers game, then proved that not only was he healthy enough to play, but also ball out of his mind.
“I have to play both sides of the court to be the player I want to be. Getting stronger. My conditioning, I've worked on a lot,” SGA said after the Thunder's first win.
In a game that both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sat out, SGA was already the unquestionable best player on the floor even before the game began and he looked like it.
OKC has been amongst the cellar dwellers for the last couple of seasons. That's led to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being more myth than man at times. The Thunder star that's the face of a team tanking for its future, leading some to speculate if he would continue to be that given their seemingly perpetual rebuild.
But make no mistake about it – SGA looks ready to be the player that most teams would want to tank for.