Shai Gilgeous-Alexander injury update: Thunder guard out until after All-Star break with sprained ankle

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The Oklahoma City Thunder lost their seventh straight game on Friday night, a heartbreaking 113-110 overtime defeat to the Indiana Pacers. If that wasn’t bad enough, they lost their star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to a nasty ankle injury in the process. 

Unfortunately, they won’t have him back any time soon. Gilgeous-Alexander was diagnosed with a sprained ankle and will be out until after the All-Star break in mid-February, the team announced on Saturday. Gilgeous-Alexander will be re-evaluated at that point to determine a more definitive timeline for his return.

Early in the third quarter against the Pacers, Gilgeous-Alexander tried to drive to the basket but stepped on Justin Holiday’s foot. His ankle rolled in excruciating fashion, and he immediately collapsed in a heap, clutching at his right ankle. He stayed in the game to shoot his free throws, but it was clear he was in no state to continue. The Thunder took a foul to stop the game, and he hobbled straight to the locker room. 

It goes without saying that this is a massive loss for the Thunder. Gilgeous-Alexander hasn’t had his most efficient season, but he’s still averaging 22.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He does a little bit of everything for them and is by far the team’s best player. They’re 0-5 in the games he’s missed so far this season, and after he was shut down with a foot injury last season they finished 2-27. 

In short, the Thunder are going to lose a lot of games the rest of the way, but that may not be a bad thing for the long-term outlook of the club. They are in the early stages of a long rebuild, and at 14-34 are just a half-game ahead of the Houston Rockets for the worst record in the league. With SGA’s injury, they’ll almost certainly lock up one of the three worst records in the league, which will give them a share of the best odds for the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. 

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