This summer, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander secured his future as the cornerstone of the Oklahoma City Thunder rebuild.
The former Kentucky guard inked a maximum contract extension worth $172 million over five years in August, but he said he’s not letting his new contract change anything about how he approaches his game.
“Obviously it was a dream come true,” Gilgeous-Alexander said at Thunder Media Day on Monday. “Super proud of it, super happy about it, obviously. But I know for me, the job is not done, work is not done. It's just one milestone I get to cross off my list, but I still have 90 percent of my list, so I won't stop.”
While the organization around Gilgeous-Alexander embarks on a massive rebuild around the young star, Gilgeous-Alexander said he isn’t worried about any of that.
All he can do is focus on improving every day, and that will be his goal, he said.
“Take it one day at a time,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “You can only be present. You can only take it a day at a time, try to get better every single day in whatever area you want to, and then it'll work itself out over time. I feel like that's had success for my career so far, and I'll probably take the same approach with the team.”
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After taking a big step forward last season before getting hurt, Gilgeous-Alexander said he’s confident he’ll improve again this season.
“Over the summer I tried to focus on, like I said, getting better at everything day by day, and I think it will take care of itself,” he said. “That's why over the years that's why guys have seen me improve. I don't know the exact area, but I do feel like I got better as a basketball player, and I will be better this year.”
On top of his emergence on the court, Gilgeous-Alexander is also taking control as the leader of the team.
He said that he learned valuable lessons in how to improve as a leader last year, and he wants to see growth in that area of his game as well this year.
“I think the biggest thing I learned about last season was that words only go so far, and you have to lead by example if you really want guys to follow what you're doing and have good intentions,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “That's I think the thing that I bring to next season, to lead by example and not only tell them what to do but show them what to do.”
During his press conference on Friday, general manager Sam Presti acknowledged that luck plays a big role in any team’s fortunes, and it appears that the Thunder may have hit the lottery with Gilgeous-Alexander as the heartbeat of the franchise.
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