The annual Oklahoma City Thunder Blue and White scrimmage brought a euphoric yet unique feeling to Sunday afternoon. As mentioned after media day, this season feels a little bit different. The scrimmage made us all realize and accept that this is a new team and a new culture.
With new players, young players at that, you don’t know what to expect. That’s exactly where we are with the Thunder right now, but Sunday’s scrimmage, for what it’s worth, showed us a preview of what the Thunder could be this season. It also showed us who may be the player(s) to step up in this season of uncertainty.
When thinking of Bazley, potential comes to mind first. At 6-foot-8, he’s extremely mobile, athletic, quick and deceivingly strong, and that showed throughout the scrimmage. He has an impressive handle on the ball as well, especially for someone who’s only 19 years old at his size. One player that he resembles is Lamar Odom and the skill set that he had. Odom may be a better shooter than Bazley, but he even shows potential in that department.
SGA is a floor general and a controller of the game. He’s a true point guard. What makes him special is his height. Shai is a big guard at 6-foot-6 but plays like a guard the size of Chris Paul, which is a compliment to his game. His ability to get places on the court quickly, fit in tight spaces and finagle his way into the lane for offensive rebounds is impressive. During the final few minutes of the second period, Shai went on a run of his own where he kept the Blue squad in the game. The difference, though, was the way that he kept his team in the game. It wasn’t all scoring, he found better ways to get his teammates involved offensively. He’s just an all-around player.
Paul couldn’t get anything to fall from long range. It got to the point that SGA, sitting on the Blue’s bench yelled at Paul after one of his missed threes. “Man! Your sh*t is broke,” said Shai, and on Sunday it was. But one thing that stuck out about Paul was the way he compensated for that. Not only did he do a great job (as he usually does) of getting in the lane and dishing to his big man, he also brought his game in a few steps and started to knock down shots from the mid-range. He was the leader on the defensive end and the vocal leader overall.
Remember, this was just a scrimmage. The Thunder will be back to game action for their annual Tulsa game on Tuesday where they’ll play the Dallas Mavericks. That’ll be a good test to get a better idea of who these guys are against other NBA teams.
All pictures used are from okcthunder.com.