“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.”Kyle Chandler
Deonte Burton does not know how to knock.
Burton has been away with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s G-League team the Oklahoma City Blue for the most of December and January. The Thunder have only 45 days to work with Burton during the G-League season. “Each NBA team can have up to two two-way contract players per season, and are typically considered to be “16th and 17th men” on a roster. Excluding time spent before and after the G League’s season begins and ends, players on two-way contracts can spend up to 45 days in the NBA while spending the rest of the season in the G League.” Burton has been getting valuable game time with the Blue playing 22 games averaging 29.5 minutes, 17 points on 45.7 percent shooting, five rebounds, three assists and two steals a game. On Monday Burton was named in the Midseason All-NBA G League Team.
NBA G League coaches, general managers, and players voted on the top performers from the first half of the season from their respective conferences, based on the performance of players in games through January 22nd. Eligibility for players to be selected for recognition is based on having played in 50 percent of their team’s games through Jan. 22 and is on an active roster with two-way players eligible, as well.
Burton reappeared for the Thunder against the Orlando Magic but didn’t have an impact in the game playing only three minutes. Four days later Burton would get another opportunity to impress General Manager Sam Presti in his quest to get a full-time contract. Burton would get inserted into the Thunder’s 26 point comeback against MVP candidate James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Burton only played 10 minutes for the Thunder but it wasn’t about quantity for Burton it was about quality as he would give his team three key rebounds and some impressive defensive displays that made him an important contributor to the Thunder’s largest comeback in their regular season history.
Three days after the Rockets game and after the unfortunate release of Alex Abrines on Saturday along with the absences of starter Jerami Grant (injury) and sixth man of the year candidate Dennis Schroder due to the birth of his first child the Thunder where desperate for someone to stand up in their clash with the Portland Trailblazers and Burton had no problem beating down the door when the opportunity presented its self. Burton had the performace of his young career against the Trailblazers scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field while also knocking down 3-of-5 three-pointers hitting 60 percent of his long range shots. It wasn’t just his offensive game that was impressive Burton also was a monster on defense recording three blocks setting a career high for the rookie his previous high being two from earlier in the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It is not clear how many days Burton has remaining on his two-way contract but he is likely nearing the end as he’s already appeared in 19 games and has participated in numerous practices and also traveled with the team. After his performance against the Trailblazers and the fact the Thunder have two roster spots avaliable Burton has put the pressure on his general manager to make the move and lock up the explosive rookie putting him out of reach of rival teams and making his home the 405 for a long time. He would also need to be signed to a standard contract in order to participate in the playoffs.
In his 19 games for the Thunder Deonte Burton has presented his explosive athleticism with his dunks and blocks that is accompanied by his ability hit a three-point shot. A player you could compare Burton to would be PJ Tucker from the Houston Rockets a big bodied three and D player that could be a significant piece in a championship side. Burton has made himself irresistible in making the most of his opportunities, in keeping up his upward momentum Burton can be an incredible find for Thunder Coach Billy Donovan and General Manager Sam Presti. A find that could be up there with one of the most impressive finds on his resume when all is said and done.