Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Enters COVID-19 Protocols; Out vs. Mavericks

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 1, 2022

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Garett Fisbeck)
AP Photo/Garett Fisbeck

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Dallas Mavericks after being placed in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Saturday.

Gilgeous-Alexander leads OKC in scoring at 22.7 points per game through 31 appearances during the 2021-22 season.

Three other members of the Thunder remain in protocols and will miss the matchup with the Mavs: Darius Bazley, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Tre Mann. Josh Giddey was removed from the COVID-19 list Saturday, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 5.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 threes and 1.0 steals this season in addition to being the team's leading scorer.

While his averages are pretty much right in line with last year's, his offensive efficiency has dropped off considerably from last season. He's shooting just 41.8 percent from the field (down from 50.8 percent) and 28.4 percent from three-point range (down from 41.8 percent).

The 23-year-old University of Kentucky product had shown some signs of turning things around recently in that regard, though, shooting 50 percent or better in three of his last seven games. He'd hit that mark just three times over his first 24 appearances.

Wojnarowski and Baxter Holmes reported Friday the NBA updated its COVID-19 protocols to allow for a potentially quicker return if a player is asymptomatic and vaccinated. They could return as soon as five days depending on their cycle threshold (CT) levels.

Gilgeous-Alexander is vaccinated—a picture of him getting one of his vaccine doses despite being scared of needles went viral in March—but it's unclear if he's asymptomatic.

Complex Sports @ComplexSports

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is scared of needles so Lu Dort held his hand while he received the vaccine. 😭<br><br>Real friend. <br><br>📸: <a href="https://twitter.com/okcthunder?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@okcthunder</a> <a href="https://t.co/W8jdWBr8dk">pic.twitter.com/W8jdWBr8dk</a>

Sunday's clash with the Mavericks is Oklahoma City's only game over the next four days. That's followed by a busy stretch of 10 contests in 17 days.

Playing without Gilgeous-Alexander for an extended period of time would be a significant setback as OKC attempts to keep pace in the race for a play-in berth in the Western Conference. Its 13-22 record is 1.5 games behind the 10th-seeded San Antonio Spurs.

Theo Maledon and Ty Jerome should both see more playing time while the star guard is sidelined.