Photo Couresy of:

Canada basketball
Holly MacKenzie

Around the NBA: All in the family - Gilgeous-Alexander, Alexander-Walker leading their teams to victory



Dec 28, 2021

Another week in the NBA means another week of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander lighting up the scoreboard. Following up his thrilling game-winning last week, the 23-year-old averaged 27.5 points in four games for the Oklahoma City Thunder this week. He also recorded his second career triple-double, finishing with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a 108-94 Thunder victory against the Denver Nuggets. Four days later, he scored 31 points in a 117-112 win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I just try to make the right basketball play,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I was just being aggressive. Playing my game, getting to my spots and trying to trust my work.”

In OKC’s win against the Nuggets, Gilgeous-Alexander’s Thunder teammates made sure he picked up the triple-double, in addition to the win.

I can’t keep track of the stats when I'm playing,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I’m just trying to win and whatever happens, happens. Towards the end of the game, my teammates were aware and they told me, but I don’t focus on it at all.”

Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 22.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game in 29 games for the Thunder this season.

“The biggest thing with us, we come in everyday trying to get better,” Gilgeous-Alexander said about the Thunder. “We know we’re not where we want to be, obviously, right now, but we attack every day and we’re getting better because of it.”

He wasn’t the only one in the family making moves last week, either. Gilgeous-Alexander’s cousin, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, led the Pelicans to a 111-97 win against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 27-point performance on Tuesday. Alexander-Walker shot 10-for-16 from the floor, including 6-for-9 from beyond the three-point line, while adding three rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes.

Teammate Devonte Graham, accurately summed up how all of Canada was feeling after Alexander-Walker's performance.

Unfortunately the Pelicans announced that Alexander-Walker went into health and safety protocols later that week and is still waiting to be cleared to return to the team.

In Detroit, Cory Joseph and Trey Lyles each posted season-highs, with Joseph scoring 21 points, and Lyles erupting for a career-high 28 points, as an undermanned Pistons team did its best to hang with the Miami Heat, before falling 115-112, on the road. Detroit was missing five players in the game due to health and safety protocols.

Dwight Powell had a season-high 15 points to go with eight rebounds for Dallas in a 114-102 Dallas win against Minnesota on Wednesday.  The Mavericks needed every one of them as the team had four players out and in health and safety protocols, and four players (including Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis) out because of injury.

All around the league, teams are dealing with a revolving door of players moving in and out of health and safety protocols, while also calling up g-league players to fill out their rosters as they await players getting cleared to return to action.

Canadian basketball history was made last week when the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks signed Javin DeLaurier, making him the first CEBL star to sign an NBA contract. DeLaurier spent the 2021 season with the Niagara River Lions before joining Milwaukee’s G-League affiliate, Wisconsin Herd.

Two days later, the Atlanta Hawks signed Cat Barber to a 10-day contract. Barber spent the 2021 CEBL season with the Guelph Nighthawks, prior to signing with Atlanta’s G-League affiliate College Park Skyhawks in September.

A day after Barber’s signing, the Los Angeles Clippers signed Xavier Moon to a 10-day contract. Moon appeared in 14 games with Clippers affiliate Agua Caliente Clippers this season, following a 2021 CEBL season with the champion Edmonton Stingers. Moon is a three-time CEBL MVP who led the league in scoring with 23.1 points per game for the 2021 season.

Following DeLaurier’s signing, Mike Morreale, CEO and commissioner of the CEBL said: “We are incredibly happy for Javin as he signs his contract today becoming the first CEBL player to move on to the NBA. As a league we celebrate Javin’s achievements and thank him for making our league a stop along his basketball journey. We can’t wait to tune in.”