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Thunder Journal: Happy Birthday, Shai

Thunder Journal: Happy Birthday, Shai

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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander turns 23 years old today.

First things first, all of us here at Daily Thunder wish the fresh face of the franchise a big Happy Birthday.

In honor of SGA Day, I come bearing gifts. Open up the bag, take out the wrapping tissue, and you’ll find a birthday boatload of stats that show Shai shares good company with a handful of young guards who have been the buzz of the NBA Playoffs.

Donovan Mitchell led the Utah Jazz to the #1 seed in the West and looked every bit the part of a rising superstar when he had six straight postseason games of 30 points or more.

Ja Morant followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign with a sophomore season that landed the Memphis Cubs in the playoffs after he torched Pop’s Spurs and Curry’s Warriors in the play-in games.

Trae Young pulled off the impossible: making people think the Mavs/Hawks Luka Doncic trade wasn’t all that one-sided after all when he carried Atlanta to within two games of the NBA Finals.

Devin Booker is two wins away from becoming an NBA champion as the leading scorer on a Suns team that had missed the playoffs in each of his first five seasons.

Each of those young guards are considered no doubt, slam dunk, max contract, multiple All Star, future of the league superstars. And Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s numbers are just as good, if not better, than all of them.

Now before you start accusing me of pumping birthday sunshine, I’m not saying SGA is better than these players (except for Ja, I am absolutely saying it in this case). Besides Morant, the other three have all been All Stars and won multiple playoff series. SGA has to prove it in the postseason. I’m just sharing these statistics to put into perspective how close OKC’s Gen Z cornerstone is to these players at his same position and same age range who are #1 options on contending teams.

Before you dive in, a little context: SGA’s rookie season hurts his raw career numbers because he played far fewer minutes in a lesser role. Each of Mitchell, Booker, Trae and Ja were given heavy minutes and workloads from day one. Shai was only given the keys this past season.

SGA vs Mitchell vs Booker vs Trae vs Ja

Career FG%

  1. SGA 48.2%
  2. Ja 46.3%
  3. Booker 45.5%
  4. Mitchell 43.9%
  5. Trae 43.1%

2021 FG%

  1. SGA 50.8%
  2. Booker 48.4%
  3. Ja 44.9%
  4. Mitchell 43.8%
  5. Trae 43.8%

Career 3PT%

  1. SGA 37.3%
  2. Mitchell 36.2%
  3. Booker 35.2%
  4. Trae 34.3%
  5. Ja 30.3%

2021 3PT%

  1. SGA 41.8%
  2. Mitchell 38.6%
  3. Trae 34.3%
  4. Booker 34%
  5. Ja 30.3%

Career eFG%

  1. SGA 52.7%
  2. Mitchell 51%
  3. Booker 50.7%
  4. Trae 49.9%
  5. Ja 49.8%

2021 eFG%

  1. SGA 57.1%
  2. Booker 53.3%
  3. Mitchell 52%
  4. Trae 49.9%
  5. Ja 48.7%

Career Points

  1. Trae 24.1
  2. Mitchell 23.4
  3. Booker 23.0
  4. Ja 18.4
  5. SGA 16.3 (20.6 in two OKC seasons)

2021 Points

  1. Mitchell 26.4
  2. Booker 25.6
  3. Trae 25.3
  4. SGA 23.7
  5. Ja 19.1

Career Assists

  1. Trae 8.9
  2. Ja 7.3
  3. Booker 4.6
  4. Mitchell 4.3
  5. SGA 3.8 (4.2 in two OKC seasons)

2021 Assists

  1. Trae 9.4
  2. Ja 7.4
  3. SGA 5.9
  4. Mitchell 5.2
  5. Booker 4.3

Career Rebounds

  1. SGA 4.3 (5.5 in two OKC seasons)
  2. Mitchell 4.1
  3. Trae 3.9
  4. Booker 3.9
  5. Ja 3.7

2021 Rebounds

  1. SGA 4.7
  2. Mitchell 4.4
  3. Booker 4.2
  4. Ja 4.0
  5. Trae 3.9

Career Steals

  1. Mitchell 1.2
  2. SGA 1.1
  3. Trae .9
  4. Ja .9
  5. Booker .8

2021 Steals

  1. Mitchell 1.0
  2. Ja .9
  3. SGA .8
  4. Trae .8
  5. Booker .8

Career Blocks

  1. SGA .6
  2. Mitchell .3
  3. Booker .3
  4. Ja .2
  5. Trae .2

2021 Blocks

  1. SGA .7
  2. Mitchell .3
  3. Booker .2
  4. Ja .2
  5. Trae .2

SGA’s numbers across the board are impressive, but none moreso than his efficiency. And all without any superstar teammates, the least amount of spacing in the league, the most unassisted points and leading the league in drives to the rim.

Every NBA fan, blogger and analyst recognizes Mitchell, Booker, Young and Morant as young superstars. Meanwhile, these armchair trade machine enthusiasts identify Gilgeous-Alexander as a player you trade for Jalen Suggs or as a player you pair with the #6 pick in the draft to move up five spots for Cade Cunningham.

The numbers back up what every Thunder fan has been screaming the last few weeks: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a player you rebuild your franchise around. He isn’t a player you trade away for a draft pick so that if you’re lucky you can hopefully draft a player like… Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. No matter how many times The Athletic, Bleacher Report or ESPN try to trade him away.

I leave you with one last parting birthday gift: SGA can and very likely will sign a rookie max extension on August 3rd. So you only have to endure 22 more days of preposterous trash trade proposals from opposing fans and national publications.

Happy Birthday to you.