Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the 35th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1].
  • Through the first 13 games, the six-foot-six combo guard has averaged 16.2 points per 40 minutes on 55% effective shooting and assisted on 24.9% of Kentucky’s scores over his 372 minutes[2].
  • Gilgeous-Alexander has alternated between running point when Quade Green is out of the game and playing off the ball alongside him.
    • The native of Hamilton, Ontario can make an open jumper and is a quick decision maker putting the ball on the floor off the catch but his best work has been done running middle high pick-and-roll.
  • On the other end, the 19-year-old[3] has also alternated between defending the point of attack and as a wing defender while accommodating Green.
  • He has great assets in terms of height, length and quickness to be expected to develop into an elite defender who offers his coach a lot of flexibility on how to place him in the lineup and the fact that he already puts in the effort is a great sign. He needs bulk up, though, possessing a weak 182-pound frame at this point of his development.
  • ESPN ranks him 47th in its top 100.

SHOT CREATION

  • Gilgeous-Alexander has an almost complete package in terms of athletic abilities running pick-and-roll:
    • Speed turning the corner or getting downhill to drive deep into the lane;
    • The ability to play with pace, mixing in change of speeds to wait for driving lanes to clear on slower developing plays;
    • A height advantage over the average opposing point guard, which helps him to make passes over the top.
  • But he still has a lot of room to refine his actual skill level working off a ball-screen:
    • Being prone to having the ball stripped in traffic – turning it over on 19.2% of his possessions;
    • Having not yet developed dynamic enough pull-up jumpers or floaters to force opponents to play up on him – missing 26 of his 39 two-pointers away from the basket up until now[4];
    • Able to make a kick-out and a drop-off pass against the defense collapsing to him but yet to show advanced court vision in terms of making passes across his body to the opposite end of the court.
  • Gilgeous-Alexander can breakdown the defense without the aid of a screen. He has dribble moves (crossover, in-and-out, behind the back, hesitation) and side-to-side shake to get by his man and attack the basket in straight isolations or on catch-and-go’s off ball reversals and dribble hand-offs.
    • He’s taken 43% of his 100 live-ball attempts at the rim and averaged 5.1 foul shots per 40 minutes.
  • Given his height, it’s tempting for a coach to play him as a wing but Gilgeous-Alexander is a legit point guard, having shown good feel for controlling the rhythm of the game, in terms of finding the right balance between passing ahead to speed up the pace or walking the ball up to run organized half-court offense.

SHOOTING & FINISHING

  • Gilgeous-Alexander is a below-the-rim finisher at this point of his development, lacking explosiveness off one foot to go up strong in traffic. But he’s flexible enough to adjust his body in the air and finish around length on reverses or stretching out his long arms on side toss-ups.
    • He’s converted 69.8% of his 43 attempts at the rim, even proving himself able to finish with his left hand.
  • Gilgeous-Alexander is only an open-shot shooter at this point of his development. He is almost a set shooter, getting little elevation and launching the ball from a low point. His release is also slow and mechanical as of now. But his mechanics seem like a decent foundation to build upon and he certainly has touch on his shot.
    • He’s nailed eight of his 18 three-point attempts and 87.2% of his 47 foul shots so far this season.

DEFENSE

  • Gilgeous-Alexander has shown to be a disciplined individual defender. He bends his knees to get down in a stance and can slide laterally several times to stay in front. He lacks strength to contain penetration but uses his length to contest shots effectively.
  • He has also shown to be an excellent pick-and-roll defender:
    • Able to get skinny to go over the pick;
    • Showing a sense of urgency to hurry back to his man in order not to compromise the integrity of the scheme behind him too much;
    • Using his seven-foot wingspan[5] to block, deflect and effectively challenge shots and passes from behind as the trailer.
  • His height and length suggests he could be an option to pick up bigger players on switches but he is not strong or tenacious enough for that just yet.
  • Gilgeous-Alexander has shown a knack for using his length making plays in the passing lanes and reaching around to strip opposing point guards of the ball in individual defense – averaging 3.2 steals per 40 minutes.
  • His contributions in the defensive glass or coming off the weak-side to crowd the area near the basket have been marginal.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] DOB: 7/12/1998

[4] According to hoop-math

[5] According to the measurements on Kentucky’s Combine

READ MORE: Trevon Duval | Collin Sexton | Cassius Winston

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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