Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has a long and ambitious to-do list.
The all-star guard from Hamilton, Ont. is having a remarkable season and has distinguished himself as one of the elite players in the league, but that’s still miles away from where he wants to get in his career.
“There’s a lot of things on my list: MVPs, All NBA teams, championships,” the 24-year-old said. “But I think what I try to focus on is just getting better every day and learning from a loss or a win or what I did good or bad in the game. That’s what I have done throughout my career and it has worked so far, so I won’t stop doing it.”
With a 34-36 record following Thursday’s 128-111 loss to the Raptors, his Oklahoma City Thunder are in a tight battle of at least six Western Conference teams within a game-and-a-half of each other and competing for four spots in the play-in tournament.
The team that won just 24 games last year finds itself on the precipice of returning to the post-season thanks in large part to the astronomical growth of Gilgeous-Alexander’s game. He’s averaging 31.3 points per game this season (up from 24.5 points last year), a mark that no Canadian player has ever come close to.
“I’m obviously playing the best basketball of my career but it’s been fun playing with these guys,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.
The improvements are a result of hard work and dedication that he puts in during the off-season, always in quest to get better at every aspect of his game. His teammates are witnesses to that greatness as he cements his name among the league’s top players.
“What he is doing is incredible,” fellow Canadian and Thunder guard Lu Dort said. “And he’s worked for that. I’ve been seeing the work he’s been putting in at the gym, and now it just shows on the court.”
With 12 games to go in the season, Gilgeous-Alexander says he’s focused on helping his team make a push to get over the hump and taste the post-season for the first time since the 2019-20 season.
“I think we are creating our identity. We have such a close-knit group; we care about each other so much more,” he said. “We’re focused on winning, we’re focused on getting better, and those are things that we like to hang our head on every day.”
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