clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander praised refs, and started getting more free throws than anyone

SGA is killing them with kindness when it comes to talking about the officiating.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been one of the best young guards in the NBA for a few seasons now, but he’s never been named an All-Star. That’s about to change in a big way: SGA has fully made the superstar leap this season, becoming one of the league’s deadliest halfcourt scorers thanks to a funky game built on attacking the paint in off-beat rhythms.

Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 31 points and six assists per game for an Oklahoma City Thunder team has been much more competitive than anyone anticipated coming into the season. It’s impossible to keep him out of the paint: SGA’s 24.7 drives per game lead the NBA with a sizable gap over No. 2 Ja Morant and No. 3 Luka Doncic. Gilgeous-Alexander’s ability to get into the paint isn’t the other thing that makes him unique — he’s also rare NBA star who doesn’t complain much about the referees.

Gilgeous-Alexander has given a few quotes acknowledging the tough job refs are asked to do, and apparently it’s paying off. After refusing to the bait on a question about the officiating following a double OT loss to the Milwaukee Bucks last month, SGA is leading the NBA free throw attempts since ... by a lot.

Gilgeous-Alexander is now averaging 10 free throws per game on the season — the third highest number in the league behind only Giannis and Luka. He’s shooting 92.6 percent from the foul line, which is the best mark in the league for anyone who has shot at least 50 free throws thus far.

Here’s the clip of Gilgeous-Alexander’s talking about the refs after the loss the Bucks on Nov. 9:

Why bait refs into foul calls when you can just give them unvarnished compliments and hope they do better next time? This is a refreshing approach for an NBA superstar to have. It sure gets a little exhausting when players like Doncic act like every call that doesn’t go their way is a crime against humanity.

SGA is thriving with a little kindness. Maybe we can all learn a lesson from that.