Date: November 7, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I wrote about Clippers rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, his first career start, and what his upside means for the future of Canada Basketball.
LOS ANGELES — It was going to happen eventually, even on a roster this deep at the guard positions: 20-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drawing his first NBA start. That it happened Monday came about due to an injury to Avery Bradley, and while Gilgeous-Alexander had an uneven debut as a starter, he will be in that position more and more often as time goes forward. The Los Angeles Clippers are trying to inject a bit of flexibility into their starting and closing lineups this year, and as a 6-foot-6 point guard who already plays beyond his rookie status, Gilgeous-Alexander is a means to several ends in that regard.
“It was a cool experience, obviously, first NBA start. It was good. It wasn’t too much of an adjustment for me,” said the 11th overall pick in the NBA draft.
The results were mixed. The Clippers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-109 and Gilgeous-Alexander was a +7 in his 25 minutes. He continues to have a positive on-court impact, as the Clippers are 8.7 points per-100 possessions better with him on the court over a small yet difficult early season sample. His individual performance — six points, three rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block — was modest, but that’s kind of where Gilgeous-Alexander is right now, making a subtle impact and putting up solid numbers around it. He also sat out the closing minutes in favour of Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, though he’s been one of the Clippers’ most consistent closers in their 6-4 start.