Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander assures Russell Westbrook is “one of the best competitors” in NBA history
Back in July 2019, a young Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was used as part of a package deal that would help replace one of Oklahoma City’s biggest stars Russell Westbrook. At that point, nobody could foresee Shai’s potential, as he’s quickly becoming a Thunder icon.
Nowadays, the point guard finds himself constantly playing against Westbrook, and last week he had to face him twice as the Clippers played against Oklahoma on back-to-back games on March 21 and 23. After those matchups, the 24-year-old admitted that his rival is “one of the best competitors to ever play the game.”
I asked Shai Gilgeous-Alexander about Russell Westbrook.
Shai: “He’s one of the best competitors to ever play the game… A really good guy off the court. That’s a guy I’m cool with, we’re friends, he’s just a really good guy.” pic.twitter.com/0Zf2Utt6AS
— Joey Linn (@joeylinn_) March 24, 2023
“Every time you play against him, you’ve got to suit up, because he’s going to come at you,” Gilgeous-Alexander told the press.
“He is a really good guy off the court,” the player continued. “He’s a guy that I’m cool with. We’re friends. Yeah, he’s just a really good guy.”
Four years after the trade that moved the veteran star away from Oklahoma, they are both shining for their teams, and last week was no exception. The younger point guard led his squad with 30 points and 3 blocks last Thursday, while Westbrook dropped 24 points and handed out 7 assists to guide his team to a 127-105 victory.
They might have very different approaches to the game, however they are both incredibly competitive in the own ways. Oklahoma City’s head coach Mark Daigneault tried to explain the main difference between both stars, assuring that personality is their main distinction.
“The greatest strength Westbrook has, in my opinion, is he does not discriminate in a competitive environment,” Daigneault said last week to the Oklahoman‘s Joe Mussatto. “It does not matter who he’s playing against. There’s no external motivation there. He is to a level, and he’s playing a certain way every night.”
As for his team’s icon, he feels he’s a different kind of person. “Shai has a much different temperament and is a much different person, but it’s the same thing,” he said. “There’s never a night where I’m like, Shai doesn’t have it tonight, or Shai’s not on tonight.”
Take a look at the highlights from last week’s second matchup between Thunder and Clippers:
Gilgeous-Alexander is on his way to winning this season’s scoring title
After 75 matches of regular season so far, Shai is leading the race to become this campaign’s highest scorer. Even though Philly’s Joel Embiid has the best average points per game, the Thunder point guard has more points in total.
The 24-year-old is averaging 31.3 points per game after shooting at 67.7% from behind the three-point line and 53.1% from field goal attempts.
As the Clippers remain 5th in the West with 40-36 record, the Thunder are sitting on the verge of Play-in Tournament qualifying at the 10th spot with a 37-38 record.
Most of our favorite sport betting sites still believe they only possess the 25th best odds in the league (+50,000) to conquer the NBA title this year, tied in possibilities with the Chicago Bulls.
The Oklahoma side are getting ready to play today against the Charlotte Hornets at home at the Paycom Center at 6:00pm CST.
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