The Oklahoma City Thunder will face off against the Atlanta Hawks today, possibly without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder look to continue their rebuilding season as the Hawks try to get back to .500. The Thunder have lost four out of their last five games, while the Hawks have won four in a row.
Gilgeous-Alexander has been the best player on the Thunder for the last two seasons, despite only being in his fourth season at age 23. A big part of that has been the Thunder’s rebuilding project, but the team also realized their talent in Gilgeous-Alexander. They have used him as the leading man for the last two seasons when he has been healthy.
Gilgeous-Alexander has started 51 games in the last two seasons, averaging 22.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists. Even though the Thunder’s team is young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander often gives them a fighting chance to win some games here and there, despite their 6-10 start to the 2021-22 season.
What is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s status for tonight's game against the Atlanta Hawks?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is listed as questionable with an ankle sprain. However, he played 34 minutes in the Thunder’s last game against the Boston Celtics. Gilgeous-Alexander has also yet to miss a game this season.
It is unclear if he will miss any time, but Gilgeous-Alexander has a history with injuries, and the Thunder could be cautious and sit him out for a game. This could mean he stays healthy for longer this season, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struggled to stay healthy last season.
How does Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s absence impact the Oklahoma City Thunder?
The Thunder are in the middle of a rebuild and have accumulated a lot of draft picks for the future. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been the team leader since Chris Paul was traded way two seasons ago, and Gilgeous-Alexander has done well individually.
This season his numbers are a bit down compared to last season, dropping over two points in points per game and dropping 1.5 assists per game. This is because Gilgeous-Alexander has started this season in a little bit of a slump, shooting 40% from the field and 32% from three. Both are well below his career avengers of 47% and 36%.
This could be because Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has played a more prominent role in the Thunder’s offense, putting up 1.5 more shots per game than last season. He is also experimenting with his three-point shot, putting up 7.1 threes per game, compared to his 3.3 in his career.
Even though Gilgeous-Alexander is slowly starting off this season, he is still leading the team in scoring and steals while also coming in second in assists. He also has the highest usage rate on the team at 27.4%.
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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has become the driving force of the Thunder’s offense while also being a solid defender for the team. The Thunder are not in the play-in tournament window right now, but Gilgeous-Alexander is a big part of their rebuild.