NBA Draft

Underrated Defensive Production Could Support Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s All-NBA Case

When looking at all of the top-level talent around the NBA, nobody has taken quite the leap year-over-year that Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has. Entering the 2022-23 campaign, he was a rising young star, but he’s now emerged as an All-NBA level player at this point.

The offensive side of the floor has been the obvious improvement this season, as the 24-year-old has developed into one of the best scorers in the entire league.

He’s currently averaging 31.5 points per game while shooting better than 50% from the floor, including over 35% from beyond the arc. Furthermore, he’s figured out how to get to the free throw line, knocking down 92.5% of his 10.3 attempts per contest. Gilgeous-Alexander is producing 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds on average as well.

While that’s all easy to see when watching the Thunder star this season, what he’s not getting enough credit for is his production on defense. This is something that needs to be considered when evaluating his All-NBA case.

Gilgeous-Alexander has notched 53 total steals on the season, which is the seventh most of any player in the entire NBA. What’s more impressive is his 34 blocked shots this season, which ranks top 25 in the league and is the most among guards. He’s also sixth in the NBA in deflections this season.

Most point guards aren’t known for being quality shot blockers, but Gilgeous-Alexander is breaking that mold. When looking at the other players across the league that have produced a similar number of blocks as him, it’s quite surprising.

Players like Steven Adams, Jalen Smith, Jarrett Allen, Isaiah Jackson, Mikal Bridges, Onyeka Okongwu and Mo Bamba are all within one block of Gilgeous-Alexander’s 34 on the season.

During the 2022-23 campaign, he’s notched eight games with at least three steals and a trio of games with at least three blocks.

However, blocks and steals don’t tell the fully story as it relates to defense.

For context, Gilgeous-Alexander has taken it upon himself to shut down opposing teams’ best players late in games. As strenuous as it is to carry a team offensively in the clutch, he’s also been able to make an impact defensively in these situations.

Gilgeous-Alexander has posted a 112 defensive rating this season and has been a huge part of Oklahoma City being a top ten defense in the NBA. Even with how good the Thunder have been on that end as a team, he’s still the leader in defensive win shares at 1.3 to this point.

As Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to prove he’s a highly impactful player on both ends, his case for an All-NBA nod grows stronger. There’s very few weaknesses in his game to this point in the season, which is how he’s led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 15-19 record.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Las Vegas Aces Star A’ja Wilson Leads Early Returns In Fan Votes For 2024 WNBA All-Stars –