Report Card (Extra Credit): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 2020 Grade
When the season shut down in March, we turned in our 2019-20 season report card knowing that basketball as we knew it was concluding for a long while. That’s how the NBA handled their 2019-20 awards as well–only counting the games played before the pandemic suspension in awards voting. But basketball did come back, and the Thunder’s players earned bonus points over the final stretch.
Previous Grade: A
New Grade: B+
After establishing himself as Oklahoma City’s building block for the future, Gilgeous-Alexander’s postseason performance did not quite live up to the sophomore’s sensational standards. Despite averaging 16.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game for the series, the fearless aggression that endeared him to Thunder fans all season long was lacking.
Gilgeous-Alexander averaged just 11.6 field goal attempts per 36 minutes in the playoffs, a noticeable dropoff from his regular-season average of 15.0. A gifted driver, seemingly always capable of slithering his way into a lay-up, SGA encountered the Rockets’ switch everything defensive scheme, limiting his effectiveness. Just 23.4 percent of all his shots came at the rim against Houston, after getting to the basket for 38.0 percent of his regular-season attempts.
While the Thunder would have benefitted from the regular-season version of Gilgeous-Alexander that led the team in scoring during the playoff defeat, conceding some offensive touches to veteran players in the postseason is no cause for alarm. There is value in the experience that can only be earned through grueling playoff defeats. After helping push the Rockets to the brink of elimination, the Thunder have to be pleased with the development made this season by the soon-to-be face of the franchise.