Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hopeful for NBA MVP award after leading Thunder to No. 1 seed in West

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The Oklahoma City Thunder exceeded expectations this season, as they not only made the playoffs for the first time since 2020, but earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 57-25 record. This is the first time they are the top seed in the West since 2013. 

While they boast a talented young roster, the main reason they are this good, this soon, is because Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made it happen. Now, the two-time All-Star wants to see his efforts rewarded with the most prestigious invididual prize. 

“I hope I get [MVP], yes,” Gilgeous Alexander said on Sunday after the Thunder destroyed the Dallas Mavericks, 135-86, to clinch first place in the West. 

After a breakout campaign last season, Gilgeous-Alexander was even better this time around, as he averaged 30.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and two steals per game, while shooting 53.5% from the field. He finished third in the league in scoring, second in steals and was one of three players to averaged at least 30 points, five rebounds and five assists. 

Along the way, Gilgeous-Alexander established himself as one of the most clutch scorers in the league. His 112 clutch points were seventh in the league, and he shot 58.1% from the field. He also only turned it over six times in the clutch. Among the 11 players that scored at least 100 points in the clutch, no one else was more efficient and only Mikal Bridges had fewer turnovers. Thanks to Gilgeous-Alexander’s brilliance with the game on the line, the Thunder went 24-14 which was tied for the third-most clutch wins in the league. 

Overall, the Thunder finished third in offensive rating (118.3), fourth in defensive rating (111.0) and second in net rating (plus-7.3). They were one of two teams to finish in the top-five on both offensive and defensive rating, along with the Boston Celtics. Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault pointed to the latter when making his case for his star. 

“i have a great respect for everybody,” Daigneault said. “I’m not a voter. I don’t study all the players. I do see one of them every single night. There is not a night where I don’t feel like we have the best player on the floor. We’re a top-five defense, top-five offense. He’s a two-end player that contributes to both of those things.”

Gilgeous-Alexander put up incredible individual stats, came up clutch time and again and led his team to the No. 1 seed in their conference. He has a rock-solid case for MVP and might get a number of first-place votes. The only problem for him is he’s playing at the same time as Nikola Jokic, who is the favorite to win the award for the third time in the last four years. 

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