Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman (subscriber link) calls Shai Gilgeous-Alexander another “too-good-to-be-true superstar,” noting that the fifth-year guard went out of his way to wear a Thunder– and Oklahoma City-inspired jacket to his first All-Star game. As Tramel writes, Gilgeous-Alexander may not have had the prospect pedigree of Kevin Durant, but he has developed into a star in his own right, and the 24-year-old is a “consummate leader, forever saying and doing the right things.”
When Tramel brought his “too-good-to-be-true” theory up to head coach Mark Daigneault, he readily agreed.
“Part of the reason why it’s too good to be true, is because he doesn’t separate himself out,” Daigneault said of SGA, “even with all the temptations and all the attention and status and money, and all the stuff that could tempt you to separate yourself.
“And really, there’s nothing in the NBA stopping players from doing that. You’re kind of at the mercy of whether they want to. Fortunately for us, he’s on that track. He’s already checked a lot of those boxes. And yet, he wants to do it inside the team. He wants to do it inside the organization, he wants to be part of something bigger than himself.”
Gilgeous-Alexander’s maturity and team-first mentality, not to mention his long-term contract that runs through 2026/27, seems to bode well for the Thunder as they continue to build around him, according to Tramel.
Here’s more on the Thunder:
- Gilgeous-Alexander cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Saturday and was able to suit up on Sunday, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Gilgeous-Alexander missed five consecutive games with a combination of an abdominal strain, right ankle soreness and then entering the protocols. The Thunder went just 1-4 in his absence, but were victorious last night against Utah. The 24-year-old didn’t miss a beat in his return, recording 38 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block.
- Daigneault said Thunder GM Sam Presti was high on guard Jared Butler entering the 2021 draft, per Mussatto (Twitter link). Butler just signed a two-way deal with Oklahoma City last week, making one brief appearance thus far. Interestingly, the Thunder had four picks ahead of where Butler was selected (No. 40 overall), including two in the 30s, so they had multiple chances to take him. Instead, they wound up packaging those two 30s picks (used on Rokas Jokubaitis and Miles McBride) in a trade to land Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
- In an article for The Oklahoman, Mussatto details how rookie big man Jaylin Williams and the Thunder have perfected the art of drawing charges. The team has a league-leading 83 charges on the season, far exceeding the Heat’s 63, which ranks second. Williams is a ground-bound center, but he uses his game knowledge to protect the rim in a different way. “It stems from my dad,” he said, “just watching film with him from a young age, me understanding the game and understanding there’s more than basketball than putting the rock through the rim.”