Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Praised by Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić: Thunder Star ‘Wants to Win’

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Joined: Nov 2016

Joshua Gateley/Getty ImagesOklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander left Denver Nuggets veteran Nikola Jokić with nothing but good things to say following his performance in Friday night’s matchup.

“He’s a problem in this league. The good thing about him is he wants to win. He doesn’t care about numbers,” Jokić told reporters of Gilgeous-Alexander after a 119-93 loss to the Thunder on Friday. “He wants to win, and I think that’s the best thing about him.”

Gilgeous-Alexander put together his fifth 40-point performance of the season in Friday’s win, notching 40 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block to help the Thunder maintain the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with a 21-9 record.

The 25-year-old’s third quarter performance, in particular, was special as he put up 17 points on 6 of 7 shooting. He also recorded one of his steals in the third quarter to help Oklahoma City extend its lead to as much as 22 points.

In part thanks to Gilgeous-Alexander and the return of Chet Holmgren, who missed his entire rookie season with a Lisfranc injury in his foot, the Thunder are on pace to put together their best season since they went 55-27 during the 2015-16 campaign and reached the Western Conference Final.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s performance this season comes as little surprise after he put together a breakout 2022-23 campaign to earn the first All-Star selection of his career. Although now he’s almost certainly in the MVP conversation.

In 29 games, he’s averaging 31.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.7 steals while shooting 54.8 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from deep.

While the Thunder continue to instill fear into their opponents, perhaps what’s even more scary is the fact that they own multiple first-round draft picks that they can dangle ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline in pursuit of more star players to put around Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports even reported on SiriusXM NBA Radio earlier this month that rival executives believe the Thunder are going to be buyers at the trade deadline:

I”‘ll tell you, every rival executive I’ve spoken to, they are 100 percent prepared for the possibility for Oklahoma City to do that. Because they are second in the Western Conference right now. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a legitimate MVP candidate. Chet Holmgren, to me, is easily the Rookie of the Year. There’s too many people expecting the Thunder are going to sniff around—with all of their draft picks, there’s just such a great opportunity for them to add someone to this right now.”SiriusXM NBA Radio @SiriusXMNBAWill the Thunder ‘finish their breakfast’ as Sam Presti [OKC EVP & GM] said, or be aggressive at the trade deadline?@JakeLFischer talks with @TermineRadio & Ryan McDonough about the possibilities for Oklahoma City.

If the Thunder are able to swing a big trade, they could easily end up being one of the favorites to come out of the Western Conference this year, which is something not many thought entering the season.


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