Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shay Gilgus Alexander is already one of the best players in the entire NBA at just 24 years old.
Over the past two seasons, the 6-foot-6 rising star has produced 24.2 points, 5.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 34.3% from deep and 52.5% from inside the arc. Furthermore, Gilgeous-Alexander took on the role of the face of the franchise in Oklahoma City. On and off the field, he’s critical to Thunder’s success now and in the future.
However, Gilgeous-Alexander has yet to secure a spot on the NBA All-Star Team.
There are a variety of reasons for this, the most notable being that the Western Conference is full of talent. The All-Star scene is very competitive, with only a few guards getting the nod each season.
With that in mind, what will it take this season for Gilgus Alexander to form his first NBA All-Star team?
It’s nearly impossible to make an NBA All-Star game if you’re not on the court being productive. This has been a problem for Gilgeos Alexander in recent years, as he has played just 91 games over the past two seasons.
After competing in just 35 matches during the 2020-21 season, Gilgeos Alexander managed to play in 56 matches last season. While this was a step in the right direction, it still wasn’t enough.
If he wants to get the All-Star nod in his fifth spell, Gilgeous-Alexander will need to play in the majority of matches during the first few months of the season leading up to the break. At this point, it remains unclear if he will be able to play on opening night next week as he recovers from a knee injury.
Gilgeus Alexander arguably had his best season in the NBA during the 2020-21 season, when he was one of the most prolific players in the NBA. Not only did he average 23.7 points per game, he did so while shooting 50.8% from the floor, 41.8% from depth and 80.8% from the free throw line.
That level of proficiency placed him in rare company as one of only four players among the top 25 scorers in the NBA in those divisions. Gilgeous-Alexander joined forces with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Zach LaVine as lone players averaging 20 points per game over the 50/40/80 division in the 2020-21 season.
As Gilgeous-Alexander increased his scoring output the following season, his efficiency declined. During the 2021-22 campaign, he fired 45.3% from the field, 30.0% from behind the arc and 81.0% from the line. If he’s going to get a spot in the NBA this year, he’ll have to regain that proficiency again.
It will be difficult to return to those divisions, especially with the defensive schemes that will be thrown at him. However, if he is to be ranked as one of the best players in the league, Gilgeous-Alexander will have to overcome this challenge.
Although this is not a new phenomenon, most players on teams near the bottom of the rankings are not considered highly in NBA All-Star selections. There have been some rare anomalies with this, but history tells us that your team must win if you want to get a nod.
Interestingly, Gilgeus Alexander thinks this is how it should be.
“I think it should be like this. The goal of the game is to win. I think it matters very much,” Media Day’s Giljus Alexander said earlier this month when asked about voters’ tendency toward players on winning teams.
For Thunder to win enough matches for Gilgeous-Alexander to earn a spot, it would require his teammates to progress as well. If this happens, then you have to imagine increasing his helper numbers.
In the past two seasons, he has produced 5.9 assists per competition. If he can get that up to seven or eight per game, he’ll start to gain some All-Star power.
All star moments
Especially on a team that has had one nationally televised game this season, Gilgeous-Alexander will have to make enough hype to get attention across the country. Whether it’s a massive public performance or one-on-one plays and moments that create waves around the league, he’ll need to jump off the page.
We saw some of these moments from Gilgeos Alexander last season, from a 39-point performance against the Houston Rockets to a game that clinched a logo shot against the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the 2022-23 season, we’ll need to see more of these moments throughout the early part of the year if Gilgus Alexander is to make his NBA All-Star Game debut.
There’s quite a bit of competition in the West as it relates to super keepers, so there’s no guarantee Gilgeos Alexander will get the nod no matter what he’s doing this season. Regardless, these are the things it will take for him to ensure he is engaged in the conversation.