Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is Seizing the Opportunity

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Oppurtunity
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On July 10th, just two days before his 21st birthday, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Oklahoma City Thunder and he is seizing the opportunity. It would turn out to be a great birthday present. The trade to a rebuilding Thunder team would give the 6′ 6″ Canadian the opportunity to score more playing time and showcase his talents.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Making the Most out of his Increased Playing Time with the Oklahoma City Thunder

Strong October

Early on in the 2019-2020 season, he has seized the opportunity. In the season opener, the 21-year-old scored 26 points against the Utah Jazz. Gilgeous-Alexander would follow that up by pouring in 28 points against the Washington Wizards on an efficient 10 of 17 shooting.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who plays point guard and shooting guard, finished the month of October averaging 21.6 points per game to go along with 7.0 rebounds per game and 3.2 assists per game.

While his strong start to the season has been a surprise to some, it’s safe to say that budding young star strongly believes he can do even better.

Striving for Greatness

During the preseason media availability, Gilgeous-Alexander spoke about his enthusiasm for being part of the Thunder rebuild and having his name mentioned along with the superstars who have previously played for the organization.

“I feel like this organization is in a good spot to get better. Obviously having a lot of picks through the work in the summer, and then having guys on the team that are talented and I think have something to prove,” he said.

“So that’s always a good thing. I think this organization has obviously done it in the past with guys like Russell (Westbrook), Kevin (Durant), and James (Harden), so I think they know what it takes and how to do it. It’s only a matter of time.”

The Early Days

Gilgeous-Alexander grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, which is about an hour drive from Toronto. His mother, Charmaine Gilgeous was a track star who competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics. He played soccer and basketball during his childhood years.

“I played soccer at a really young age but mostly basketball,” said Gilgeous-Alexander who was introduced to the sport by his father, Vaughn Alexander.

“The ball was put in my hands at a really young age from my dad. Then from there, I just fell in love with it, I guess and ran with it. Yeah, the game has been good to me.”

Feeling Comfortable in Oklahoma City

Being from the Toronto area and having played his rookie season in Los Angeles, the Canadian point guard was also asked if it was a bit of a culture shock to play in Oklahoma City.

“Actually not that much difference from Lexington where I went to school. Reminds me a lot of like that. Fans are really behind their team and stuff like that, so kind of been a little bit used to it. It’ll be fun,” replied the Kentucky Wildcat Alum.

The second-year NBA pro also has the familiarity of playing alongside former University of Kentucky teammate Hamidou Diallo.

“Playing with Hammy in college was exciting. Obviously he’s a really good athlete and he’s easy to play with. We’ll have a little connection. I’ll know his tendencies,” said Gilgeous-Alexander.

Optimism About What Lies Ahead in Oklahoma City

While most NBA observers have written off the Thunder this year, the young Canadian is not so quick to do that.

“I try not to worry about everything that the league or the media says in terms of things like tanking and things like that, expectations for us,” he said.

“I think if we’re focused on ourselves, try to get better every day, and play to the best of our ability the best we can, it’ll take us where it takes us. Whether it be the playoffs, not the playoffs, finals run, never know.”

The 21-year-old point guard believes the talent is there, but it’s the drive to succeed that’s going to determine their success – both in the short and long term.

“I think we can be really good defensively. We got a lot of guys with length and athleticism, and obviously those two things help a lot. Then the rest just comes down to willingness, too. I think we got guys willing to compete and really play hard at that end of the floor, so I think we’ll be good,” he noted.

The trade to Oklahoma City was in many ways an early 21st birthday present for Gilgeous-Alexander that could reward him in other ways besides the increased playing time on the rebuilding Thunder team. Provided he’s able to continue his stellar play when the time comes to negotiate a contract extension he could be in line for a huge payday.

Taking it One Day at a Time

However, the thoughtful 21-year-old prefers not to look too far ahead. Instead, he understands his hard work and focus on improving each day will ultimately help him reach his future goals.

“Personally, I just attack every day the same. Just try to be the best me that I can be, whether that be practice, games, whatever it is, and then still continue to be who I am whether that role changes or not. Not worried about that,” said Gilgeous-Alexander.

“Everything else will take care of itself.”

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