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Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out long-term with foot injury

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 18: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives to the basket during the game against the Atlanta Hawks on March 18, 2021 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The Thunder entered the season seemingly ready to tank.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made that difficult.

The guard has continued his development, reaching near-stardom and keeping Oklahoma City (19-24, 2.5 games from play-in position) competitive.

But he’ll be sidelined for an extended period with a foot injury.

Bryan Keating of KOCO-TV:

The silver lining for the Thunder: This will make it easier to tank ahead of a draft that looks top-heavy. For that reason, expect Oklahoma City to be especially cautious with Gilgeous-Alexander.

But this is obviously tough for the competitive player.

It also significantly dents the Thunder’s postseason chances. Gilgeous-Alexander fills such a big role. Just seven other players match his combination of usage percentage (28.5) and assist percentage (31.0): Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Rockets guard John Wall, Lakers forward LeBron James, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.

George Hill could return soon from a thumb injury, though he’ll probably get traded by tomorrow’s deadline. That’d leave Theo Maledon and Ty Jerome as Oklahoma City’s top lead guards.

At least there’s that silver lining.