After the All-Star starting line-up was announced last Thursday, all fans could do was wait and speculate to see if their favorite players would suit up as a reserve on March 7. After much anticipation, Shams Charnaria of The Athletic announced on Tuesday both conferences respective bench squads.
To the dismay of every Thunder fan, golden boy Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was notable left off this season’s group of participants. SGA joins a long list of snubs including Trae Young, Domantas Sabonis, and Devin Booker.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has shown elite efficiency with the basketball on averages of 22.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.5 assists throughout 25 games. The 22-year-old has already scratched greatness, being one of only five players averaging splits of 20/5/5 — accompanied only by the likes of Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Zach Lavine, and James Harden — all of which are All-Stars. Shai has found himself both inside and outside the perimeter, being second in the league on points off drives with 12.2, while also being one of four Western Conference guards averaging 20+ points on 40% or better shooting from three (SGA shoots 40.7%.) To top things off the guard measured fifth among active Western guards in PIE ratings (Player Estimated Impact,) a stat used to measure a players overall contribution to the team.
Though Gilgeous-Alexander’s accolades this season were very well deserving of an All-Star nod, the young star may have been ousted of the final spot by his protege — Chris Paul. Fan voting equated for 50 percent of the final say, and with Chris Paul ranking number 8 in voting compared to Shai’s lowly number 11 position — it likely could have put his case at his first appearance to bed. One rebuttal to this assumption may relate to another snub in Devin Booker, who likely caught himself in the same situation as the guard.
So what happens next? Having all 12 Western Conference tickets punched for March 6 All-Star Game, it should look like the Thunder’s 11-year streak of tagging a member to the contest is completely lost at this point — there is a slim chance however. Anthony Davis, who was selected as a reserve, may withdraw from an appearance in Atlanta as he is currently battling a right calf strain that has no set return time in place. If Davis, or any other member of the West were to drop out, Oklahoma City may fill the replacement spot two years in a row with Chris Paul last season to SGA for this go-around. Competition for a potential availability will be steep as Devin Booker’s 24.7/3.8/4.3 splits may be alluring while San Antonio forward Demar Derozan has a valid argument with 19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and a career-high 6.9 assists.
Knowing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, an All-Star snub should do nothing but charge the guard. He has been known to follow up rough games with outings that undisputedly crown him the best player on the floor, and a scenario like this should be handled no different.