After a remarkable stretch of play from star ball handler Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder guard has crept into the early season MVP conversation. Earlier this week, SGA's game-winning 3-pointer capped off a 42-point performance against the Washington Wizards and garnered attention from around the league.
With Oklahoma City's record hovering around .500, NBA fans and media have started to see Gilgeous-Alexander through a different lens. People have begun to move away from the idea that the Thunder are preventing the former Kentucky guard from reaching his full potential and see now that the 24-year-old is growing into a superstar in OKC.
Gilgeous-Alexander's impressive start to the young season has thrust his name into MVP debates just 15 games into the year.
This season, the Thunder's star is averaging 32.3 points, 5.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 54.6% from the field, 40% from 3-point range and 91% from the charity stripe. SGA also has a Player Efficiency Rating of 30, marking the third highest in the league behind only Luka Doncic and Steph Curry.
OKC has had two players win the MVP in the team's 15-year history; Kevin Durant took home the award in 2014 and Russell Westbrook was honored in 2017. Durant averaged 32 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 50% from the field, 39% from 3-point range and 87% from the free throw line.
Westbrook broke the NBA single-season triple-double record in 2016-17, notching 42 in his MVP year. The former Thunder guard average a whopping 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.
This season, competition for the award is stiff. With seven players averaging over 30 points per game a month into the season, the MVP race is sure to be a tight one when the season comes to an end.
Doncic, Curry, Jayson Tatum, Joel Embiid and Ja Morant are some of the other names commonly mentioned in MVP discussions. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic won the award for the second time in a row last season, averaging 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game.
In 14 games this season, Gilgeous-Alexander has scored less than 30 points only four times while being held to under 20 points only once. If the blossoming superstar can continue to stack these performances for the entire season and the Thunder continue to outperform expectations, we will likely still be talking about SGA as an MVP candidate when the season wraps up in the early summer.