Thunder

SGA’s All-Star Campaign Fully Underway

on

All-Star voting is here.

When the season began, we questioned if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had what it takes to make the cut.

After a year under the tutelage of Chris Paul, SGA has made strides in several facets of his game. But with an All-Star game tentatively scheduled for March 7th, the question still remains: Is SGA an All-Star this year?

The Competition

It’s no secret the West is a stacked conference. It has been for several years. Some arguments are beginning to be waged regarding league parity, but if anything, that speaks to the eye-popping amount of talent in the league.

There are four guard slots and six forward slots plus two additional position-less slots to round out a 12-man All-Star roster per conference. Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic are virtual locks to be selected among the guards. Russell Westbrook is in Washington. James Harden is in Brooklyn.

That leaves three possible slots for SGA.

To be the fourth guard selected in the West, he has to beat out Chris Paul, Ja Morant, DeMar DeRozan, Donovan Mitchell, Victor Oladipo, John Wall and Devin Booker.

If any of those guards are selected over him, the pool of talent widens for the position-less slots.

Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Anthony Davis are all virtual locks.

Throw into the mix Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Christian Wood, Rudy Gobert and Kristaps Porzingis and the margins get razor-thin.

What the Record Shows

Similar to MVP voting, team success plays a role in getting voted as an All-Star. Stats alone won’t cut it. Bradley Beal was averaging over 30 points per game last season and was left off the roster.

Why? Because the Wizards were floundering at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Team record serves as both a positive and negative for SGA. While OKC’s record is likely to dip further below .500 in the coming weeks, right now Gilgeous-Alexander has the Thunder just two games out of 8th place in the Western Conference standings.

For a roster that was projected by most to be the worst team in the West, that is an attractive metric in SGA’s favor.

Unfortunately, he’s not the only West guard elevating his team’s win count. Donovan Mitchell has the Jazz fighting for first place in the West. Ja Morant and the Grizzlies are in fourth. Chris Paul and Devin Booker have the Suns fighting for sixth. Even the Rockets are now fighting for 8th.

Despite SGA’s production with a significantly worse roster, if the Thunder stop winning, it could spell trouble for SGA’s All-Star bid.

Production

Speaking of production, it would be pointless to cast an All-Star vote for SGA if he wasn’t putting up numbers. The third-year stud is averaging 21.8 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.

That’s more points on a nightly basis than DeMar DeRozan, more assists on average than Stephen Curry, and more rebounds per game than Kawhi Leonard.

As the focal point of running the offense, he has nearly doubled his assists per game and has more than doubled his assist percentage.

SGA also usually draws the best defensive player from opposing teams. Despite that, he is averaging career highs in nearly every single shooting efficiency metric.

An increase in field-goal and three-point attempts per game usually balance out with a slight drop off in shooting percentage, but SGA is shooting a career-high 51.2% from the field and 37.5% from three. That’s good for a true-shooting percentage of 61.6%.

All of this is impressive, but the stat that really ties it in a bow is his usage rate. Coming into the season, it was expected that SGA would surpass the 30% mark.

But he hasn’t.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s usage rate sits at a very pretty 27%. That’s only 3.3% more than last season.

SGA is posting all-star-level numbers, but doing so within the flow of the offense. He isn’t forcing anything. He hasn’t played selfishly, although some might argue he should.

For a very young Thunder team, he has been nearly the perfect point guard.

Head-to-Head

SGA’s stats paint him as All-Star material, but to get a good picture of how he stacks up against his competition, let’s introduce a little bit of head-to-head.

Here is a list of SGA’s best competition and the numbers they have produced this season. Alongside their numbers will be SGA’s stats to this point.

*Modeled as: points / assists / rebounds / steals – on – FG% / 3PT% / FT%

Guards

Forwards

Conclusion

Of the guards, Booker scores a bunch, but does little else on the court. Morant averages the most assists, but hasn’t taken that next step as a scorer yet. Wall is a feel-good story, but is not on par with the others.

Mitchell is SGA’s closest competition here and might get the nod if the Jazz stay at or near the top of the Western Conference, but SGA has the best overall statistics of the bunch. The forwards only matter if another guard gets selected instead of SGA to be apart of the first ten players.

Of the forwards listed here, it is very likely one of them will be chosen to be the sixth forward out of the first ten selections.

That still leaves two. It’s hard to choose between them. All have had stellar seasons, but out of the three forwards and SGA, the only one that has glaring deficiencies is Zion.

Unfortunately for SGA, Zion has another thing going for him outside of just stats and success.

Popularity

Zion became a household name two years ago.

He’s been the center of attention and spotlight for a while now. The casual fan would likely vote Zion over SGA purely on name recognition. The same goes for Mitchell, Booker, Paul, Wall, Ingram and debatably a few more players in contention.

Popularity is also something that develops over the course of a career.

Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t get selected to an All-Star team until his fourth season in the NBA. Stephen Curry didn’t get selected until his fifth.

There is a very real possibility that SGA doesn’t get selected this season purely due to not being a household name…yet.

So is SGA an All-Star or Not?

It’s hard to give a yes or no answer right now.

He certainly has all the credentials to be one. Based on his stats alone, he is more deserving than any guard in the Western Conference not named Curry, Lillard or Doncic.

In his third season, he is leading a bad team to mediocrity.

He is playing winning basketball.

He deserves to be an All-Star.

Following the first fan vote returns, he is currently ranked ninth among Western Conference guards and 19th out of Western Conference players.

To be voted for less than C.J. McCollum, who has been hurt for 1/3 of the season, is absurd.

To have 300,000 fewer votes than Zion Williamson is obscene.

There is one way to rectify this madness.

Vote him in.

Follow us on Twitter @ThunderLead for the latest Thunder news and insight.

Loading
Loading...

About Adrian Walker

Graduate from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Been covering sports since I was 14 years old. I have an Emmy nomination to my name and have helped produce two documentaries through UNC Hussman. I Co-Host a podcast called the Flight School Podcast which can be found on Spotify and iTunes. My mind is basically a storage base for every known fact about Russell Westbrook.

Recommended for you

Powered by themekiller.com