Photo: Oklahoma City Thunder/Twitter

Despite the fact that it’s been nearly four years since they parted ways, coach Doc Rivers still holds high regard for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Gilgeous-Alexander spent his promising rookie season in the Los Angeles Clippers last 2018-2019 season, the time when Rivers was still calling the shots for the franchise. As such, when the young guard was found out to be traded in a package for Paul George with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the veteran mentor admitted that he formed second thoughts.

“One of my favorite guys. Reminds me a lot of Tyrese (Maxey) just as far as his approach,” Rivers said of Gilgeous-Alexander, via Clemente Almanza of USA TODAY. “He’s one of those young guys in his rookie year that you couldn’t coach enough. That loved being coached, overworked and stood for everything that’s good in the game. I say the same thing about Tyrese. I’ve had several those (type of players) but (SGA) stands out. Quiet demeanor but tough, and you knew this was coming. At least I did. I believe that. 

“The day we decided to make that move when I was in LA, I was not so sure about it – even though what we did was phenomenal, too. I kept thinking this kid’s gonna be special, and I’m really happy that he is because he’s a good kid.”

Amid his solid rookie campaign, the Clippers can only do nothing but pull the trigger in order to acquire George from OKC to make a formidable team in Los Angeles with the newly-signed Kawhi Leonard. Since then, Gilgeous-Alexander blossomed in his own ways as the leader of Thunder’s youth program.

The Canadian wonder guard has been in four seasons now with OKC as their franchise centerpiece. This 2022-23 campaign, he continues to thrive and establish himself as an All-Star-caliber player, averaging a career-high 31.4 points to go with 5.8 assists, 4.8 boards and 1.7 steals in a robust 50.5 percent shooting.