January 30, 2023

The backcourt pairing of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey have looked a lot smoother in their second season together, writes The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto. the thunder Young guards were still working on passing the ball when Giddey suffered a season-ending hip injury last February. They’ve learned to complement each other this year and are a big part of why OKC is 23-24 in the playoff race.

“When you have two guys who really want to get it right, it’s less about their games, it’s less about their fit,” Coach said Markus Daigneault said. “It’s more about whether the players want to work to get it right? And in this particular case we have a whole team, it’s not just limited to Josh and Shai, guys who want to do it right. I think you see that over time.”

Giddey is averaging 16.0 PPG in his sophomore NBA season and has become a more reliable outside shooter, increasing his three-point percentage from 26.3% to 32.8%. He also capitalizes on opportunities that arise while the defense focuses on Gilgeous-Alexander, who is fifth on the league’s goalscoring list.

Shai could have 40 points every night if he wanted to.” Giddy said “But he’s altruistic, he gets off the ball, he makes players around him better.”

There’s more from Oklahoma City:

  • Though the Thunder look like legitimate playoff contenders, every general manager is moving Sam Presti power before the close will focus on the future rather than securing a post-season spot, Mussatto says in a Mailbag column. Mussatto sees Darius Bazley as the most likely candidate for a trade due to his limited offensive play, and he speculates that the team won’t re-sign Bazley to free agency this summer even if he isn’t dealt.
  • Fans shouldn’t expect to see the Serbian guard Vasilije Micic in a Thunder uniform next season, Mussatto adds the same piece. While the 29-year-old continues to excel in Europe, it’s unclear if there’s a role for him in Oklahoma City. Micic wants a chance at regular time when he comes to the NBA, and Mussatto suggests he could be more valuable to OKC as a swap chip.
  • The Thunder have a strong case to finish as one of the top six teams in the West, claims Basketball News’ Ethan Fuller. Oklahoma City is 8-3 in January and just one game away from sixth place. The Thunder and Nuggets are the only teams to finish in the top five in both offense and defense this month.

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