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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a Franchise Cornerstone, Not Trade Bait

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The NBA off-season hasn’t even officially started, but for Oklahoma City it feels like it’s been upon us for a full year now. You know it’s full off-season mode when the only news is trade rumors and speculation from national media and NBA Twitter.

The talk of the town has been the #1 overall pick that belongs to the Detroit Pistons and the price tag surrounding it. There have been many predictions and potential trades thrown around suggesting what that pick might cost. In multiple trade scenarios presented, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander somehow gets tossed into these trade packages as almost an afterthought, or as one article put it… a “sweetener.”

To give up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be next-level foolishness and to call him a “sweetener” is downright disrespectful. Here’s why:

In year three, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander proved he is a cornerstone on an NBA team. SGA had an eye popping level of efficiency while leading a struggling Thunder team to wins in games where they should never have won. In the NBA, three players averaged 20+ point, 5+ assists and shot 50% from the field and 40% from three. Those three players? Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

As Oklahoma City continues to grow and improve its roster, one could assume that Gilgeous-Alexander will have better floor spacing and more open looks. This past season, almost all of his points he created for himself, which makes his percentages all the more impressive. SGA scored 87.1% of his buckets by himself, unassisted. That is simply absurd.

The whole timeline argument doesn’t quite make sense to me either. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is 22 years old, the age of some rookies in the current draft class. He’s a borderline all-star at 22 years old. The production and reliance on SGA is clear as day — he wins games by himself. With Gilgeous-Alexander on the floor, OKC was 16-19. Without Gilgeous-Alexander in the lineup, OKC had a record of 6-31.

The timeline should be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, plain and simple.

You should hope some of your draft picks end up in the lottery (they will) and use your other draft picks to trade for players that compliment SGA. He is a guy you build around, not someone you use for trade bait.

If an NBA general manager could see into the future, three years down the road, and know that any of the prospects in this current draft would average 23.7 PPG, 5.9 APG, and 4.7 RPG while shooting 50.1% FG, 41% 3PT and 81% FT in year three, they would be worthy of the No. 1 pick in any draft, no questions asked. Cade Cunningham could be great, maybe you’re confident enough to say he will be great, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is already great.

Gilgeous-Alexander is a 22 year old budding all-star that has very few weaknesses in his game that is still developing. In five years, when OKC is hoping to be competitive, he will be entering his prime at 27. With his efficiency, growth and results, putting a cap on Gilgeous-Alexander’s ceiling is silly and getting old. Any team picking No. 1 in the draft is hoping they will draft the player that SGA is by year three. Who knows how much better he can get in the next five years if he’s already this good? 

Author

Ross Lovelace
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