Shai Gilgeous-Alexander started the first game of the 2017-2018 season. Then coach Calipari moved him to the bench. Gilgeous-Alexander didn't start another game until December 16, 2017, against Virginia Tech. Then back to the bench he went. However, on January 9, 2018, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was permanently reinserted into the starting line up.
Gilgeous-Alexander eventually elevated to Kentucky’s go-to-guy. Now, he’s arguably his former team’s top NBA prospect. So how high will he continue to rise amongst all 2018 NBA Draft prospects?
This article will touch on what Gilgeous-Alexander brings to the table, what you can expect from him at the next level and what he needs to do in order to become the best point guard of his draft class. By the end of this write-up you will have a good idea of what he will bring to the franchise that selects him on June 21, 2018.
So without further ado, let’s dive into Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s scouting report.
So what do we know about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?
We know that he has excellent height and length for an NBA point guard. At the NBA Draft Combine he measured up at six feet six inches tall. He weighed in at 180 pounds. He displayed 6 feet 11 1/2 inches of wingspan and eight feet eight inches of standing reach.
We also know that Gilgeous-Alexander proved to be durable for the Wildcats. He played in all 37 games and started in 24 of Kentucky’s contests. He ranked 40th in total NCAA minutes played (1248) and ranked 214th in NCAA minutes per game.
So what do you get when you mix height and length with potential, athleticism, fluidity and poise at the point guard position?
How he contributes
You get a prospect that scored 532 points on the season. You get a prospect ranked 198th in NCAA total points scored. You get a prospect that made 183 baskets and ranked 209th in NCAA made field goals.
Gilgeous-Alexander attacks off the dribble. He knocks down a few jumpers and a high percentage of his free-throws. He also creates plays for others and rebounds at his position. Overall he’s offensively efficient. However, he can be turnover prone as well.
On the defensive end you can expect one or two steals per game. You can also expect him to be block-less on many nights. However, on some nights expect him to block one or multiple shots in the contest.
Attacking off the bounce
Gilgeous-Alexander scored many buckets by attacking off the dribble. His handle is solid. He finds holes in the defense. With or without screens he attacks in both directions. He can split screen and help defenders. However, on occasion he loses his handle or makes bad decisions in tight spots.
Gilgeous-Alexander is effective on straight line drives. He’s also a tough cover when he’s changing direction and gears. He glides past and bounces off defenders in a silky fashion. Defenders have a tough time staying in front of his crossovers, in & outs, hesitations and spin moves.
In the paint and along the baseline, he has a feathery touch on his floaters. At the basket he can finish with acrobatic lay ups or above the rim. He has some hang time and finishes with both hands. He’s also capable of drawing fouls and getting to the line.
Gilgeous-Alexander creates for himself off the dribble but he’s a playmaker for others as well. He has vision. He has drive, draw & dish ability. With or without screens he can split help defenders off the dribble, get into the paint, finds shooters, basket finishers or makes the lob pass.
For the season Gilgeous-Alexander dropped 189 dimes and ranked 33rd in NCAA total assists. He ranked 60th in NCAA assist per game (5.1) and 147th in Assist/To ratio (1.89). He dropped a season high of ten assists against Ole Miss on February 28, 2018.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s strengths are attacking off the dribble and creating for others. However, he is capable of knocking down a jump shot as well. He can shoot off the dribble or the catch and shoot. He’s capable of knocking down shots along the perimeter. His range extends out to the college three point line.
Gilgeous-Alexander shot a high percentage from long distance but didn't have many attempts. He averaged 1.5 three-pointers per game. He shot a total of 57 and made 23 three-pointers for the season.
His season high on attempts are four, on two separate occasions. His season highs on made three-pointers are two. He hit two three-pointers in a game on six separate occasions.
Not only is Gilgeous-Alexander capable of knocking down a jump shot. He’s very reliable from the charity stripe. In his only season at Kentucky, Gilgeous-Alexander ranked 122nd in NCAA free throw attempts (175). He ranked 92nd in NCAA free throws made (143) and 158th in NCAA free throw percentage.
Can be turnover prone
Gilgeous-Alexander, is reliable from the foul line. However on some nights he's not reliable with the ball in his hands. Overall Gilgeous-Alexander handles his business in an offensively efficient manner. However he can be turnover prone. Shai committed 100 turnovers on the season. His game highs are six vs Kansas (11/17) and S. Carolina (1/16).
Gilgeous-Alexander had two games in which he committed no turnovers. Thirty-five games with at least one. Twenty-eight games with at least two. Twenty-one games with at least three. Nine games with at least four. Five games with at least five and two games with at least six turnovers.
Rebounds at his position
On some nights Gilgeous-Alexander may not be reliable with the ball in his hands. However he's usually reliable on the defensive glass. Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the better rebounding point guard prospects in this year’s draft. He averaged 0.9 offensive rebounds and 3.2 defensive rebounds per contest.
Gilgeous-Alexander grabbed a season high of eight boards against Davidson on March 15, 2018, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. He recorded a season high of three offensive rebounds against Georgia (12/31) and Auburn (2/14).
He recorded a season high of six defensive rebounds against Texas A&M (1/9), Tennessee (2/6), Ole Miss (2/28), Tennessee (3/11), and Davidson (3/15).
The defensive end of the floor
Defensively Gilgeous-Alexander slides his feet. He’s capable of stopping penetration. He gets into passing lanes for steals and deflections (with hands and feet). He’ll contest shots and he’s capable of blocking some as well.
Gilgeous-Alexander recorded 61 steals and ranked 51st in total NCAA steals. He also ranked 99th in steals per game. On March 15, 2018, Gilgeous-Alexander recorded a season high of five steals against Davidson. Out of 37 games, Gilgeous-Alexander recorded at least one steal in 30 games and at least two steals in 20 games. He recorded exactly three steals four times, four steals twice and five steals once.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s blocks per game average may tell you that he’s not much of a shot blocker. However he’s long and reacts quickly. This makes him very capable of contesting and blocking shots. On the season he blocked 18 shots and averaged less than one per game.
He recorded a season high of three blocks against Ole Miss on February 28, 2018. He had five games with two or more blocks (four games with two blocks and one game with three blocks). He also had at least one block in seven contests.
How high will he continue to rise?
Depending with whom you speak, some would rank Gilgeous-Alexander behind Collin Sexton, Trae Young and maybe a couple other point guard prospects. However, Gilgeous-Alexander has the potential to rise to the top of the 2018 point guard crop.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s future is bright. Assuming that he receives a fair shot. An equivalent opportunity to the other point guard prospects. The only thing that will stop Gilgeous-Alexander from rising is Gilgeous-Alexander.
If Gilgeous-Alexander decides to develop a lethal jump shot, a defensive lock down mentality and gain a few pounds… Well, let’s just say that I’m officially putting NBA ballers on notice. Opposing teams will have a problem on their hands. Five years from now you will probably speak of Gilgeous-Alexander as the best point guard from the 2018 NBA draft class!
Role/how he can contribute at the next level:
Height at point guard
Solid from the free-throw line
Areas for improvement/Weakness/Question Marks:
Turnover prone at times
Become lethal jump shooter
Lottery Pick: 10-14
Birthdate: July 12, 1998 (19 years old)
Hometown: Hamilton, Canada
Major: Undeclared/Exploratory Studies in Agriculture
2018 All SEC - 2nd Team
2018 All SEC - Freshman Team
2018 SEC Tournament MVP