The Future of OKC, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Expecting a positive off-season to bring in the right pieces to win a championship, the Oklahoma City Thunder gave up the most critical players on the team. Russell Westbrook and Paul George were both traded during the off-season. Both players requested a trade and ended up on contending teams.
However, a shine of light did come from this dark off-season for the Thunder. Out of all of the pieces the Thunder received. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may be the most important. Being only 21-years-old, he has plenty of time to develop into a star that the Thunder needs. Danilo Gallinari was also acquired in the trade that sent George to the Los Angeles Clippers, as well as five first-round draft picks. The Thunder had leverage in the deal. The Clippers knew that if they made a trade for George, Leonard would sign with them. Therefore, allowing them to get all of the picks and even a young, talented player in Gilgeous-Alexander.
Beginning The Rebuild
To begin this rebuild, the Thunder must tear things down. Until the Thunder no longer has Gallinari and Paul, the team will still compete and try and get into the playoffs. When the two veterans move on from this team, the Thunder will be in an excellent position to begin the rebuild. Having other young guys like Darius Bazley, Hamidou Diallo, and Terrance Ferguson will help alongside Gilgeous-Alexander.
The six-foot-five guard out of Kentucky had an awe-inspiring rookie season scoring 10.8 points on average. Gilgeous-Alexander can score off of the dribble or when he is off the ball, which helps his case. The Thunder have had a history of being a bad three-point shooting team. Gilgeous-Alexander shot 37% from the arc in his rookie year. He can score in the mid-range area as well, using his height and length to shoot over other guards. His finishing and touch around the rim are also very underrated. Gilgeous-Alexander has an excellent offensive package that could help him develop into a star in the future.
Along with the offense he brings, Gilgeous-Alexander has the right build to guard multiple positions. His wingspan of 6’11 can bother the offensive players, and a height of 6’6 allows him to defend players anywhere from the point guard to the small forward.
With proper development, Gilgeous-Alexander could be an all-star in the future and maybe even a superstar. Fans may say the Thunder lost the trade, but considering the situations, there may be no real winner to the deal. The Clippers get the win-now pieces that they needed, and the Thunder have a solid, young guard to build around.
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