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victory in Philly, 37 points from his pocket

First arsonist of the night. Brilliant fire on the floor of Philly. This Thursday, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander distinguished himself in a role of absolute leader: victory with a cador from the East, neat percentages, mule scoring without forcing the natural. His start to 2023 is crazy. Hey, be careful not to finish MVP without doing it on purpose anyway.

The pretty homemade boxscore is HERE!

37 points at 10/16 shooting and 16/16 throwing, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and… only 1 lost ball. Do we realize the statistical prowess?

Sometimes the match sheets mean nothing, or reflect slight tendencies to be completed with a more intrinsic analysis of the match. For once, that of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander against Philly is speaking. Only sixteen shots attempted for 37 points at the end, 16/16 on throws, we know a lot of players who – with such clean percentages – would have pushed up to 50 units. But Shai does not think record. He even seems to have nothing to do with it. On Monday night, Nuggets coach Mike Malone highlighted the contrast between Nikola Jokic’s selflessness and his double MVP status: “I know a lot of players would be pissed off to only take five shots in 35 minutes… But Nikola doesn’t care if he takes 5 or 25 shots. I don’t know many like him.”. If we had to name another player with this DNA, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the first that comes to mind. This season, he fires an average of 21 shots per game with a 50% success rate. That’s a lot, huh, but it varies from one game to another depending on how the opposing defense treats him. Zero forcing. 29 shots taken against the Pelicans on December 23, then only 14 the following game against the Spurs. If he has to spend the evening feeding the buddies, he will do it without flinching.

Shai is used very well and presses on the sectors of the game that he masters: the circle attack by size advantage and the mid-distance shot, among others. This season, he is not trying “only” 2.9 3-point shots per game (compared to 5.3 in the 2021-22 financial year). It’s very strong. the combo guard 24-year-old cast aside the first cartridge, the golden arrow, the very essence of scoring in the modern NBA. Some players have built Hall of Famer careers on 3-point shooting. He wants the same end but will not take this path. “Yeah but TrashTalk, the point guards who don’t have a shot, we know what happens in the NBA…”. Tell that to Tyrese Maxey who just spent the night playing Twister. SGA’s support game is far too developed for him to be handicapped by his 3-point shot. And that’s not even the point. The Canadian is running at 35% of the career parking lot. It is very correct. But other ways of scoring are easier for him and more in the collective interest.

We loop it on two or three « achievements » related to dynamics? At the start of 2023, the Thunder posted a 3-2 record having beaten Washington, Dallas and Philly. Loss of a small point in Miami, and surprise in Orlando against an excellent Magic. In short, Mark Daigneault’s team is 13th in the West with a 19-23 record. This is to date the only obstacle to the MVP candidacy of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. For the rest, the ” next to “ argue in its favour. Averages of 31-5-6 at 50% shooting, a good defensive investment (better guard NBA “blocker”, 2nd player with the most 30-point games (crazy consistency), 5th best scorer in the League. We are starting to run out of excuses not to ambush Jokic, Giannis and KD. And if the Thunder puts its collective balance sheet on the page, then we will open a file that we did not think we would open so soon.

Oh and also, Josh Giddey was awesome with 20 points and 8 assists. Big big Thunder backcourt to “extinguish” the Maxey – Harden association, although the Barbu still sent 24 points and… 15 assists. That’s why we put the quotation marks. “Turn off” is very subjective.

Curtain shot at this Sixers – Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and his homies are already on the plane to Chicago. Match tonight at 2am, the legs will be heavy, that’s where we will see the ability of the Thunder to follow. What will also say a lot about the objectives of the second half of the season: the Playoffs or Victor Wembanyama?

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