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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returns to Thunder lineup after 4-game absence

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder are getting a big boost with combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returning to the rotation on Wednesday night.

Gilgeous-Alexander missed the team’s last four games with a knee sprain, but he will be active for Wednesday’s matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.

The Thunder went 1-3 in SGA’s absence, most recently losing to the Portland Trail Blazers at home on Tuesday night thanks to a late Damian Lillard explosion. OKC will hope the former Kentucky product can give them a boost in the second game of their back-to-back.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been a clear bright spot for a Thunder team really just beginning its rebuild in earnest. He showed signs of being a breakout star last season and seems to have realized that potential in Year 3.

The 22-year-old is averaging 22.6 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds through his first 21 games, shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from beyond the arc. He is making over 56 percent of his 2-pointers, a pretty elite mark for a guard, and also boasts a 61.1 percent true shooting mark.

Gilgeous-Alexander has also taken on more of the offensive responsibility following the departure of Chris Paul in the offseason, experiencing a sizable jump in usage rate up over 27. The fact that his efficiency is only going up despite the jump in usage is impressive.

Oklahoma City will look to bounce back with a win against a Grizzlies team fresh off a blowout loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Memphis gave up a whopping 70 points in the paint on Tuesday, which bodes well for Gilgeous-Alexander given his ability to take defenders off the dribble and finish in the lane with an assortment of runners and layups.

The Thunder are 11-16 on the season.