Heading into the 2020-2021 Season, many expected Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to spearhead the offense for the team, as he embraced being “The Guy”. No one would have faulted Shai for deciding to take sole control and shoot 20 times a night while playing with a higher usage rating. While it is true that he is leading the team offensively, Shai has not hijacked the offense, choosing instead to spread the ball around and create a democratic offensive scheme. This selflessness is a tremendous sign of maturity and growth for Shai, sacrificing personal statistics for the developmental benefit of others. Hamidou Diallo, for example, has mentioned that he has picked the brain of both SGA and George Hill to help further develop his own game. While you’d hope that most players would be eager to help their teammates grow and develop, some sadly are only out for their own accolades, so it’s nice to see when this happens.
Several games this season, it was clear that SGA could have gone for career nights scoring-wise, hitting Forty easily, but instead, SGA has maintained a delicate balance of attacking the defense himself, while also enabling teammates to shine. Truly elite players can consistently score at a steady rate, while also helping the team in other ways every night, (rebounding, assists, steals, etc). The fact that Shai already has a grasp of this now, when many other young players would just be hoisting shots as “The Guy” on a rebuilding team, is incredibly impressive.
Take OKC Legend Russell Westbrook for instance. No matter what, he gave his all each and every night, trying to will his team to victory. While he sometimes took sole control of the offense, other nights he deferred to the extreme, trying to get the team going. While Shai and Russ each have their own unique playstyles, they both are incredibly effective.