The new-look Thunder have hit the scene and although all 20 players won’t make the active roster, and a few key players didn’t make the trip to San Antonio, we got to see some of the new acquisitions display their talent to a fanbase that hasn’t gotten to see them play.
Everyone knows about Darius Bazley, Luguentz Dort, and Al Horford. Those are the few that didn’t make the trip to San Antonio, but with them inactive, players like Frank Jackson, Theo Maledon, Aleksej Pokusevski got the opportunity to shine…and boy did they.
Theo Maledon, the 19-year-old from France, was the high scorer for Oklahoma City, showing signs of being a reliable option for the Thunder to build on. While this was the first preseason game of the 2020-21 season, the thing people were most concerned about was his adjustment to the speed and physicality of NBA basketball. He did fine. He was OKC’s highest scorer and looked confident doing so. This preseason game did not resemble the average rookie’s first NBA action.
The most talked-about rookie was Pokusevski after draft night and he looked NBA ready as well. The biggest concern from the 7-foot 19-year-old Serbian-Greek phenom was his size and adaptability to the NBA game, just like Maledon. We’re going to hear a lot of that this year because Sam Presti brought in a bunch of well, raw talent from overseas.
In his first performance, Poku showed flashes of what Presti brought him in to do. Looking at his height, he’s automatically slotted to be a big man in the NBA. He’s not, and I don’t think he ever will be. He’s a wing. He’s a Dirk Nowitski type of player. Poku displayed that in his first preseason game in the NBA. He scored 14 points, on 4-of-8 shooting from three, including three straight threes to solidify the contest for OKC. He also added 8 rebounds and 4 blocks to his preseason debut.
Frank Jackson, the only American born out of this group, did a great job familiarizing himself to the Thunder fanbase after his first preseason game, scoring 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He had an impressive performance, but the 5 turnovers were definitely alarming.
The Thunder may not have the star power that they’ve had for the last decade, but they’re undoubtedly headed in the right direction with the talent they have at the helm now. Also, you can’t forget Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that scored 12 points in 19 minutes and Hamidou Diallo that recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Sit back, relax, and watch these young boys develop.