It feels like Christmas Eve. You can see the Christmas tree providing shelter for a mountain of presents that are full of potential and optimism and you are so giddy to wake up in the morning to rip open and see what all the potential actually is. That is exactly what the millions of NBA fans are feeling before the first game of their teams season. Everything is on the table no matter what you team did last season this is a completely new season and anyone can win a ring.
For the Oklahoma City Thunder, it feels weird and foreign. The king of Oklahoma City Russell Westbrook has left his kingdom for a fresh start leaving his throne for a new heir to lead his fan base in a new direction because after 11 years of leading his people a certain way a mutual decision was made that it was time for change. Westbrook moved to Houston and The Thunder set out on a new frontier led by an exciting young guard from Canada who has a different way of doing it and on the eve of year 12 for this extraordinary organization and fan base it has potential and optimism again and it’s in the shape of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder acquired Gilgeous-Alexander along with Danilo Gallinari to go along with a boatload of picks, including four unprotected first-rounders, a protected first-round pick and two pick swaps in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that included the Thunder sending perennial All-Star Paul George.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is no Russell Westbrook. The only similarities the two share are their fashion sense and that they play point guard. SGA is as we say in Australia “Silky” a smooth moving guard with an intelligence beyond his years whereas Westbrook is a force of nature that has a belief in himself that is unmatched.
Gilgeous-Alexander finished his first season averaging 26.5 minutes per game while scoring 10.8 points per game on 47.6 percent from the floor and 36.7 percent from three-point range while also going 80 percent from the free cent from the free-throw line. also managed to give the Clippers 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds in his debut season. He would only get better and more impressive in his first season when the playoffs came around as the Clippers would face the reigning champions in the Golden State Warriors in the first round. Gilgeous-Alexander would show his class and potential by going 13.7 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from three-point range 2.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists while only turning the ball over an average of 0.8 per game against the best team of the decade and two time mvp in Steph Curry. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had arrived in the NBA going six games with the Warriors averaging 28.8 minutes per game in your first season is something that had every Clippers fan very excited for their future until that future became the Thunder’s future.
Off jump Gilgeous-Alexander set the tone and laid down the gauntlet with his first opportunity with the Oklahoma media
“He set the bar pretty high,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I am not Russell Westbrook,” Gilgeous-Alexander “I do not have the same name, same body type, stuff like that. So, I’m just going to try to be myself and be the best me and everything else will take care of itself.”
“I’m just a basketball player. Regardless of the situation, I’m going to continue to work hard and play my game. I know that eventually it will come out. I don’t worry about starting. I’m not worried about accolades or things like that. I just work hard, keep my head down and (stay) true to who I am.”
With the trade of Westbrook to Houston, the Thunder got a future hall of famer in return in Chris Paul the value of having Paul for however long alongside Gilgeous-Alexander will be unmeasurable for the development of the second-year guard who has a hunger for knowledge and willingness to learn that has him on the fast track for greatness. The competition in practice is already making the young guard better so much so that he’s beating the veteran guard in shooting competition.
The Canadian has an edge to him that will endear him well to the people of Oklahoma and the iron sharpen iron mentality around this seasons preseason can only carry him forward in a positive way on the court. With fellow young talent, coming along for the ride the likes of Hamidou Diallo, Deontae Burton, Darius Bazley and Terance Ferguson the Thunder’s future looks extremely bright with General Manager Sam Presti sitting on 1,000,000 draft picks from his offseason dealngs anything is possible and with The Fresh Prince of OKC Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the charge the one thing the former guard couldn’t accomplish maybe this generation of Thunder players chance to leave their legacy in the 405 and that’s win a championship the first for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
ADD CP3, BAZLEY AND SGA PHOTO HERE
So wake up tomorrow Thunder fans with all the optimism and hope of Christmas because tomorrow is the birth of a new generation of Oklahoma City Thunder players and anything and everything is possible. Don’t put limitations on what they can achieve enjoy the ups and ride out the lows because a championship quite possibly could be waiting for you at the end of this next journey.