Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone was straight forward when asked about Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is enjoying an MVP season despite his team’s struggles.
Malone believes Gilgeous-Alexander is dangerous simply “when he’s on the ground,” the coach told reporters ahead of Wednesday night’s game against Oklahoma City.
According to multiple NBA betting sites, the Thunder Guard is the No. 1 favorite to win Most Improved Player of the Year in 2023. See which sportsbooks give the Nuggets the eighth best chances to win the championship this season.
Asked Coach Malone which part of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s game is the most challenging and he said “when he’s on the ground”.
“I don’t think the boy has any weaknesses in terms of attacking play and the arsenal he has.”
Leads the NBA in drives per game. OKC leads the NBA in PITP.
— Katy Winge (@katywinge) November 23, 2022
“I don’t think the kid has any weaknesses in terms of offensive play and the arsenal he has,” the Nuggets coach added. “The man is an MVP candidate.”
Oklahoma City ranks sixth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 116.4 points per game. In addition to carrying the team offensively, the Thunder Guard leads the league in drives per game and 2-point field goals (162) this season.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone says Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has no weaknesses in his game
Through 16 starts this season, Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged career highs of 31.1 points, 6.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. In addition, he shoots 52.6% from the field and 39.1% from outside the arc.
In addition, the Kentucky product ranks fifth in points (497), third in points per game, second in field goals (180), fifth in free throws (119), and sixth in player efficiency (28.3).
Quite a few fans completely agree with the Nuggets coach.
Of course, the Thunder uses SGA in 32.9% of the games with the guard on the field. Not to mention, his actual shooting rate is an impressive 62.2%.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander joins Russell Westbrook (4x) and Kevin Durant (once in 2014) as the only players in Thunder franchise history to record 35 points and 5 assists three games in a row. The most is four times in a row by Westbrook in February-March 2015. pic.twitter.com/jcasLdSKE6
– ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 17, 2022
Last Wednesday, in Oklahoma City’s 121-120 loss to the Washington Wizards, the 24-year-old tied his career with 42 points. He finished shooting 14-of-22 (63.6%) from the floor and 2-of-3 (66.7%) from center.
SGA joined Russell Westbrook (four times) and Kevin Durant (once) as the only players in Thunder franchise history with three consecutive 35-point games and five assists. From February through March 2015, Westbrook recorded four in a row.
Although the Thunder guard has yet to record a double-double this season, the fifth-year player is still playing the best basketball of his NBA career.
In addition, the Nuggets will play the Thunder on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET. A few sportsbooks show Oklahoma City as a 1-point favorite over Denver.
Our writing team here at Basketball Insiders would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! While there are no NBA games on Thanksgiving, fans will tune in to watch football. Enjoy your parties.