Stats: 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists
Basketball IQ: As just a 19-year old freshman, Gilgeous-Alexander led his team to the Sweet Sixteen. Knowing his game and facilitating to an offensively-challenged team is a difficult task for a young guard but he handled it like a pro.
Defense: Standing 6’6 with a 7-foot wingspan, Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be one of the best defenders of his class. With the NBA’s modern era of “position-less” basketball, he’s a perfect fit in many systems.
Gilgeous-Alexander has the length and play-making ability Rondo had coming out of Kentucky. Rondo landed in Boston and was joined by three future Hall of Famers but his high basketball IQ allowed him to learn on the fly and run the show in his early years. Though he was limited offensively, he managed to use his elusiveness to score in the paint and create open shots for others.
Livingston is probably Gilgeous-Alexander’s floor, as he backs up arguably the greatest point guard in the world (Steph Curry). He’s also a two-time champion and plays a major role on who many consider to be the best team in NBA history. His range doesn’t extend very deep but in the mid-range area, in the post and in the paint he’s highly efficient. He’s also able to guard multiple positions with his height and length. This screams Gilgeous-Alexander in all areas.
As a four-star recruit coming in to the decorated program of Kentucky, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander found himself overlooked. To start the season, Quade Green was viewed as the team’s starting point guard and Hamidou Diallo (along with Kevin Knox) was viewed as potentially the team’s best player.
However, a few months passed and Gilgeous-Alexander was leading the Wildcats into what would be another SEC Tournament title and NCAA Tournament run. Though the Wildcats’ run was cut short in the Sweet Sixteen, Gilgeous-Alexander signified his place as a forever fan-favorite.
Without the long and lanky combo guard, Kentucky’s season may have been lost. It wasn’t until Green went down with an injury and Diallo’s play began to slack that Gilgeous-Alexander was given the reigns.
Needless to say, he took them and didn’t even consider looking back.
Now, he finds himself in the mix of players that will likely be taken in this summer’s NBA Draft. Specifically, he’ll almost certainly land in the lottery.
Cleveland Cavaliers, 8th Overall
The Cavs badly need a defensive stopper and Gilgeous-Alexander is just that. They also have the oldest roster in the NBA and youth in the backcourt could speed up their tempo while also aiding on defense against Kyle Lowry, Kyrie Irving, Victor Oladipo, etc.
Charlotte Hornets, 11th Overall
Charlotte has been between mediocrity and rebuilding for what seems like the last decade. Despite drafting all-star point guard Kemba Walker, they haven’t met expectations of putting pieces around him. If they sense Walker could bolt in free agency next summer, they could select Gilgeous-Alexander as their future at point guard.
Los Angeles Clippers, 12th or 13th Overall
The Clippers fully hit the reset button last season by dealing away Chris Paul and Blake Griffin for assets. With DeAndre Jordan potentially leaving in free agency, they could start over with a clean roster. The Clippers own both the 12th and 13th overall picks so, assuming they don’t trade both to move up in the draft, they could fill not only their point guard hole with Gilgeous-Alexander but as well get their scoring wing with Knox.
Denver Nuggets, 14th Overall
Denver is loaded with young talent and the team was one win away from the final playoff spot in the competitive Western conference. Point guard is an interesting spot on their team, as they dealt away their starter last season at the trade deadline. Drafting Gilgeous-Alexander would not only fill their starting role but would give them a defensive leader on the floor. His rookie contract would also be affordable for a cap sheet this is expected to become very expensive.
It’s my belief Cleveland doesn’t end up using that draft pick. Therefore, it’s hard to anticipate who will be the team using it. After assuming the Hornets take a wing player, Gilgeous-Alexander should land in L.A.
My personal preference would be for him to go 14th to Denver but L.A. isn’t a bad spot, either. The Clippers are irrelevant when it comes to young point guards. Under head coach Doc Rivers (who also coached Rondo in his first few years), Gilgeous-Alexander would receive the best opportunity to come in and learn the position on a professional level.