Why Billy Donovan was "Happy" That Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a Tough Shooting Night.

Erik Gee

In Friday's 109-105 win over the Pelicans, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a less than ideal shooting night going 4 of 13 with 10 points. Gilgeous-Alexander has made the transition from point guard to shooting guard seamlessly in his first year in Oklahoma City, averaging 18 points per game (39th in the NBA) and establishing himself as a consistent threat to opposing teams.  

After the game, Billy Donovan was asked about Gilgeous-Alexander's miserable shooting night and said: " I don't mean this the way it's gonna come across. I'm happy he struggled." "He's another guy that works extremely hard, and I think adversity is good." Donovan was encouraged that even with the struggles, Gilgeous-Alexander was still attacking and driving to the basket.  Donovan believes some players have surface confidence and deep confidence. He says surface confidence comes when you're having success early in the season, especially when you're shooting the ball well.  "shots are going to come and go."  If Gilgeous-Alexander is going to be the cornerstone of the Thunder, he'll need to fight through those tough shooting nights and find other ways to contribute. Donovan likes to point out the easiest thing to judge a performance by is the stat sheet. Some times those "bad games" are a better judge of where a player is as opposed to night's he goes off for 20 or more points.

If you're wondering how Billy Donovan's relationships from college are affecting his time in the NBA, look no farther than Nerlens Noel.

Donovan recruited Noel while he was the coach at Florida. While watching Noel's high school games Donovan learned just how good a passer he was.  Now, Donovan is using that knowledge to run the offense through Noel. "He's always been an excellent passer and a quick roll to the basket." Having Noel at the top of the key, according to Donovan, helps the guards work off each other.  Donovan says if the Thunder are going to score, they need to be an offense that works though all five guys on the floor.  

As far as Noel's recruitment, he never took an official visit to Gainesville, but that time that Dovan was able to spend talking with the 6-10 center helped get Noel to Oklahoma City two summers ago. 

Pelicans and Thunder tomorrow on Fox Sports Oklahoma, tipoff is at 4 pm.