We are back this week with the next installment of the top 50 NBA players, profiling players 40 through 31. The first 10 players can be found here.
The second set of the top 50 NBA players is here, inching closer to those on the borderline of All-Star status. This week we look at 40 through 31.
Let’s get started.
Top 50 NBA players: 40. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Previous Rank: NA
One of the most fun storylines of the season was watching Shai Gilgeous-Alexander blossom from being the third guard behind Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder to a borderline All-Star over the matter of one offseason. The fact that a young player was shut down in the midst of the tank to preserve his team’s chances of getting a top pick is telling. Gilgeous-Alexander is on the path of greatness.
Over the 35 games he appeared in the third-year guard averaged 23.7 points, 5.9 assists and 4.7 assists per game. He exploded as a shooter, shooting 41.8 percent from distance on 4.9 attempts per game. This type of growth has turned the rebuilding situation with the Oklahoma City Thunder rebuild on its head. No longer are they hoping to land their first All-Star with a top lottery pick. That star is already in place.
The next step for Gilgeous-Alexander is maintaining the growth from a year ago over a full season. Doing that over a 35 games sample is impressive in and of itself but for the Thunder to build the foundational young core they are dreaming of he will need to be that player for more than 70 games a year on a nightly basis. The standard he has set for himself is high, but he is capable of exceeding it.