Oklahoma City Thunder: Trading Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would prove to be a big mistake

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Why the Oklahoma City Thunder shouldn’t trade Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. 

With the 2021 NBA Draft just days away there has been a flurry of rumors circulating social media. Where could Ben Simmons or Bradley Beal go? What is Chris Paul going to do? Can the Los Angeles Lakers get anything for Kyle Kuzma?

Now the latest rumor bubbling is an apparent trade for the No. 1 overall pick. According to a recent report, the Oklahoma City Thunder offered the No. 6 overall pick along with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the Detroit Pistons for the first overall pick.

The Pistons reportedly declined.

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Nevertheless, there are more than a few reasons why the Thunder might continue to pursue this trade. The first reason is it will delay the inevitable max contract they would have to give to a young talent. Instead of giving SGA a max extension, the Thunder would have four more years to decide if they want to give a max deal to Cade Cunningham.

The Thunder could use the excess cap room available from the delay, to sign free agents to pair with Cunningham.

The second reason for offering this trade would be to have a player with ties to the area as the face of the franchise. Cunningham is technically from Texas, but he went to college at Oklahoma State. Having a local talent might keep the fan base engaged during this arduous rebuild.

Trading SGA would be James Harden 2.0

On the other hand, you can say that this trade really doesn’t make a lot of sense for OKC. They’d be essentially giving up on a proven talent for an unproven prospect. Even if it seems extremely likely he will succeed in the NBA, he is still unproven.

This trade feels eerily similar to the James Harden trade, where the Thunder overthought their future and reacted quickly. Instead of paying a young proven talent, they chose to move on to save their luxury tax and attempted to replace Harden’s output with other players. It didn’t work.

The trade price should really be reversed, The Pistons should be offering the N0. 1 overall pick and an additional asset for SGA. What SGA has shown over his brief career is worth more than being used to move up five spots in an unknown draft.

SGA is 6-foot-6 and can play both guard positions. He averaged over 23 points a game last season and shot the ball well from all distances, 50/40/80 splits. In addition to that, he has posted consecutive seasons of having an offensive rating higher than his defensive rating. As well as having a positive VORP during his two years in OKC. SGA also gets others involved collecting 6.6 assists a game this year.

Using SGA as a piece to move up would be a mistake, as he could be an All-Star if he was in the Eastern Conference. He has proven himself to be a capable player, making the playoffs with Chris Paul last year to only a few short months later elevating his scoring output and assist numbers. SGA played so well this year, OKC had to shut him down to preserve their pick.

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The NBA Draft brings a lot of rumors, uncertainty, and discussion. If the Thunder want to move up for a better pick, they should use some of their stockpile of draft picks to do so. Giving up on SGA now might haunt them as trading Harden has for so many years.