Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander developing into sneaky shot blocker
DETROIT — John Henson collected a pass under the rim and was a jump away from an easy slam. What Henson didn’t know was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had sneaked in from behind. And as Henson rose for the dunk, Gilgeous-Alexander timed a right-handed swat.
Oklahoma City’s 6-foot-6 guard easily denied Detroit’s 6-foot-9 center. It was one of two blocks Gilgeous-Alexander recorded Wednesday in the Thunder’s 114-107 win against the Pistons.
Gilgeous-Alexander has developed into a sly shot blocker in his sophomore season. Among all guards, Gilgeous-Alexander ranks fourth in the NBA with 45 blocks.
Houston’s James Harden (52), Boston’s Jayson Tatum (52) and San Antonio’s Derrick White (48) are the only guards ahead of him in the block department.
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Gilgeous-Alexander has already matched his block total from last season in Los Angeles.
“The biggest thing with Shai is to keep on challenging him and pushing him to be an elite two-way player,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said Wednesday.
“Pick-and-roll coverage is where he can really be effective because he’s got long arms and he’s got length. Getting over screens and being able to rearview contest and get himself back into plays has been really, really important. And when he does that, it really takes our defense to another level because he has great ability to contest shots.”