In a recent article by HoopsHype, Michael Scotto interviewed 17 NBA executives asking which players under-25 would they want to build their team around.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came in at No. 8 on the list, right behind Zion Williamson of the Pelicans. Luka Doncic led the list at No. 1.
“He’s a two-way player who can play as a playmaker or shot creator,” one NBA executive explained, according to Scotto.
Gilgeous-Alexander agreed to a 5-year $172 million contract extension with the Thunder this off-season, as OKC cemented the young star as its franchise cornerstone.
One of the most interesting things about the list, was that Gilgeous-Alexander and Zion Williamson were the only two players in the top ten on losing teams. Most of the players on this list are young stars leading exciting playoff runs.
Oklahoma City, however, is in the middle of a necessary rebuild. This rebuild has caused outsiders to question Gilgeous-Alexander’s fit to the puzzle because a player of his caliber hurts the tanking ability overall. Some feel as if SGA doesn’t fit OKC’s timeline, which could be a long rebuild.
On the contrary, I view this as a huge plus for the Thunder as a whole. While other teams that are rebuilding have young, fun prospects, OKC has those same prospects but a franchise cornerstone, too. While it may hurt the Thunder’s current draft position, the evolution of Gilgeous-Alexander’s game is way more important in the long run. If league executives already view him as a top ten player to build a franchise around, his jump to stardom is what could bring the Thunder to contention.
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Gilgeous-Alexander must refine his jumper and become a more consistent shooter. He also has unlocked potential on the defensive end with his size and length. But his ability to excel as a shot-creator and a playmaker is what makes his overall potential so high. Most nights, he's a legit number one scoring option.
Because OKC has a center piece to build around, the rebuild process is off to a head start. Some organizations spend years trying to hit on one draft pick and never finding a true star. If Gilgeous-Alexander can continue and grow into that star. the Thunder have the luxury of building around him.
Even though the Gilgeous-Alexander’s numbers are down this season, he’s drawing much more attention from defenses. The fourth-year guard is averaging 21.9 points and 5.1 assists, but shooting just 40.8% from the floor.
He’s displayed his ability to score in the clutch, though, hitting multiple game winners.
Overall, the fact that NBA executives would have SGA near the top of their list of players to build around says a lot about who he is as a player and his potential in this league. OKC is in a good spot rebuilding with a star already locked in long term.