Horry Scale

Horry Scale: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander spins and sinks game-winner over Blazers

No game-winner is easy, but how did Gilgeous-Alexander's rank on the ultimate scale of desperation?

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's star power can't be questioned, but how did his buzzer-beater rate?

A reminder on The Horry Scale: It breaks down a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.

* * *

The All-Star buzz for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been growing all season. His best moments are starting to match his already astronomical numbers.

The Thunder’s star guard made his latest argument for national recognition on Monday, draining the game-winning baseline jumper to give Oklahoma City the 123-121 victory over Portland as time expired.

The shot capped a 35-point night for Gilgeous-Alexander, who ranks third in the league in scoring, fourth in free throw attempts and fifth in points in the paint.

SGA’s All-Star credentials can wait for another day. For now, let’s look at the only bucket that matters in the Horry Scale.

GAME SITUATION: A tie game leaves little risk and all the reward on the table for the team with the ball. The remaining 3.2 seconds can also seem an eternity, especially on a short sideline inbounds pass. Game-winners at the buzzer are never inherently easy, but this particular edition held little in the desperation department, and yeah, that matters a lot here.

DIFFICULTY: The shot wasn’t the hard part. It was the move that preceded it, a filthy spin that left Gilgeous-Alexander’s defender lurching a full step behind. But to do that, pull up, square his shoulders and sink the jumper is not easy, even for most of the 350 best players in the world that comprise the NBA.

CELEBRATION: The teammate mob came, as it usually does for a game-winning hero, but there was a different edge to this one. Gilgeous-Alexander’s fellow Thunder players didn’t rush him immediately, but rather flexed and got into his face, reinforcing the already-apparent fact that yes, Gilgeous-Alexander is that dude. Game recognizes game, and the Thunder know they’ve got a real one in SGA.

GRADE: Gilgeous-Alexander’s heroics are the latest example of his having arrived. Opposing teams fear him, game plan for him and do all they can to stop him. He just won’t be. 2 Horrys.