Canadian born and Kentucky’s own, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is moving up the board in most NBA mock drafts and more importantly in the minds of several NBA scouts and front offices. The question now is, how high in the NBA Draft Lottery will he land? Will he be the top point guard selected?
There is clear proof which suggests that the Canadian point guard has a game that translates better to the NBA than any other projected guard in this year’s Draft. The League is drafting more and more off of potential and in Gilgeous-Alexander’s case you have high level production matching up with high ceiling.
As it stands, Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky), Trae Young (Oklahoma) and Collin Sexton (Alabama) are the top guards projected as lottery picks.
Canadians in previous drafts came into their respective draft year with much more clout–i.e, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Jamal Murray were well known names who had received a barrage of exposure to the U. S market. This Canadian, however, played well all season and finally blew up across America in March with eye popping numbers, crushing almost every statistical category from the regular season.
The last Canadian coming out of Kentucky is Jamal Murray, who is doing quite well for himself in Denver.
Gilgeous-Alexander had the type of freshman season for the Wildcats that suggests a strong rookie season as well in the league. Patterns are showing that the top 3 prospects in North Pole Hoops Canadian national player rankings are panning out to be prime NBA players.
Out of the one and done’s this season at Kentucky, the Canadian is projected right after his teammate Kevin Knox and could potentially surpass Knox after workouts.
Comparing Shai’s regular season vs post season
Gilgeous-Alexander didn’t have the same buzz surrounding his name as the other projected lottery picks at the beginning of the season; nor was he a McDonald’s All-American, Jordan Brand Classic selection or 5 star prospect in the U. S.
Instead, he spring boarded onto the NCAA scene after earning a significant role at Kentucky and gaining time on the floor for Coach John Calipari by the time of the tournament.
Gilgeous-Alexander explained, “right before conference play, I watched a lot of game film and my coaches were saying things like you’re playing passive aggressive.”
S. G. A has been known to study game film religiously and became aggressive in this aspect by picking at any weak point he could find.
“I’m never satisfied, so I’m always watching film and keying in on every mistake. Even when I’m in game and I notice a mistake I note it mentally and come back to it in film.”
Let’s first dive into the reasons for Gilgeous-Alexander’s rise in NBA Draft stock, beginning with his physicals.
There isn’t a guard in this year’s NBA Draft with more impressive and desirable physicals.
The Canadian is 6’6 playing the point and has a 6’11 wingspan that he uses well to average 1.6 steals. He’s about 185 lbs now and is just beginning to pack it on. His slender build is also advantageous and transferable to the NBA when he’s snaking through a screen or in situations like a split cut. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander clearly has the best NBA body out of the guards projected in this year’s draft. His size and length allow him to play multiple positions on both ends of the floor in the NBA.
The same cannot be said about Young and Sexton.
S. G. A projects to be a better defender at the next level based off of the numbers presented above. Statistically backed, he has a higher defensive plus/minus rating than Young and Sexton.
Moving on to the Canadian PG’s offensive arsenal, there’s been a clear indication in his improvement to get to, and finish at the rim. As a result, the aggression in this area has led to more attempts and makes at the free throw line.
His long strides enable him to beat his man using the combination of length and educated feet. With a high understanding of spacing and ability to play the pick and roll game; Gilgeous-Alexander can get to wherever he wants on the court.
As he continues to develop his jump shot, defenders will have to close out quicker which will open up more of the drive for him. Between regular season and post season there’s been almost a 10% increase from 2 point range and over 10% increase from the three point line.
The production that’s coming from the young man in the middle of the charts is done in far less usage out of the three stud guards. Gilgeous-Alexander has been very effective while being far less ball dominant than Young and Sexton. On a team like Kentucky with multiple NBA-ers in the mix, there is fewer touches and time with the ball in his hands.
All in all, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gets the job done efficiently as a PG. Taking all Canadian bias out of the equation and relying strictly on the info presented above, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has the best NBA stock out of the point guards projected in the lottery.