After a full day to detox following one of the most intoxicating nights in Thunder basketball history, a way-too-early question arises; could Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Luguentz Dort turn into a more cohesive big three than Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden were?
Before you click off of this article out of utter disgust of the comparison, don’t. In no way am I saying Giddey, SGA, and Dort are as good as OKC’s former big three, nor am I saying they will be. I’m simply presenting a topic for you to decide on and move on with your life. However, I’m going to give you supporting facts to back up why they could be.
The biggest difference between the OG big three and the YG big three is clear: Russ, KD, and Harden were cold-blooded assassins on the offensive end of the floor. When all three of them were efficient, it was nearly impossible to defeat them. That’s also what ruined them, though. All three were such dominant scorers that at times there weren’t enough shots for them. Down the line, it turned out that there was a bit of a power struggle between Westbrook and KD.
It’s too early to gauge how SGA, Giddey, and Dort will respond to stardom, but based on their skillsets, while similar to the dynamic that was the OG big three, is much different, much more suited to coexist on a court together. These three appear to fit well together without any clear roadblocks.
If there is a question about these three, it’s who’s going to be aggressive on the offensive end on the floor? When the game is on the line, who’s going to demand the ball? SGA may be the most talented offensively, but does he know that? The biggest issue is that both SGA and Giddey are point guards and true point guards at that. Meaning, they both have a distributor’s mentality. Given they’ll both be on the floor at the same time in crunch-time moments, one of the two will have to assume the role of a shooting guard in the clutch and that player needs to be SGA because he has the offensive repertoire to do so.
We witnessed a slight preview of what could be on Wednesday night when SGA almost single-handedly put OKC on his back in the third quarter, scoring 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three. Given the situation at hand, just a few minutes from knocking off the Lakers, SGA had his shining moment.
Meanwhile, Josh Giddey was being aggressive in his own way, assisting on four fourth-quarter buckets for nine total points. In addition, Giddey added 10 of his 18 total points in the second half, while being ultra-efficient, shooting 4-of-7 from the field.
Lastly, Dort was doing the dirty work, scoring 13 second-half points on 3-of-4 shooting, including 4-for-4 from three. More importantly, he was playing superb defense on the offensive end, primarily being responsible for holding Westbrook to 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting in the second half.
The Thunder roster is undoubtedly the most poorly constructed in the league, but this trio fits well together. They compliment each other in ways that the original big three didn’t. Will SGA, Giddey, and Dort develop into OKC’s next big three? Well, the rebuild isn’t over and another guy in an upcoming draft could emerge. But, as the team appears now, this trio has a promising future, whether they live up to Durant, Westbrook and Harden is up in the air.
We’ll know when we know.