For the first time in over a decade, someone other than former franchise icon Russell Westbrook will be penciled in as the Oklahoma City Thunder's starting point guard. And presumably, newcomer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will get the nod.
The team's likely new floor general doesn't see himself as an exact replacement for OKC's former MVP.
"I am not Russell Westbrook," the 6-foot-6 Gilgeous-Alexander said on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. "We don't have the same game, the same body type, nothing like that. So I'm going to try to be myself, the best me, and everything else will take care of itself."
Gilgeous-Alexander was a revelation for the overachieving Los Angeles Clippers during his rookie campaign last season. After falling to No. 11 in the 2018 draft, the Kentucky product put up 10.8 points, 3.3 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game while posting a 51.2 effective field goal percentage.
The 21-year-old's value skyrocketed so quickly that he became a focal point in the blockbuster package Oklahoma received in return for perennial All-Star wing Paul George this summer.
Now, Gilgeous-Alexander will be called on to fill the gap the former franchise pillars left.
"Regardless of the situation, I'm going to continue to work hard and play my game," he said. "I know that eventually it will come out and things like that. I don't worry about starting. I don't worry about accolades or anything like that. I just work hard, keep my head down and be true to who I am."