Here we go with our second appointment with Keeping Up With the Thunder and my five takes about the past week of Thunder basketball.
BAZLEY, A STAR IN THE MAKING
Darius is a key player of the Thunder’s next chapter, and rightfully so. Bazley proved that he can score in any way, he can be a great rebounder, create his own shot, and hold his ground on defense. The last two games are a preview of what Darius can become, and it’s exciting to think he is only twenty years old. Against Orlando and Miami, Darius averaged a solid double-double: 17.5 points (60% FG and 55% 3PT on 4.5 attempts per game) and 10.0 rebounds. The future is bright for the fresh prince of OKC.
MALEDON EST BIEN
I added a little french to this one: Maledon is good. Now, don’t look to close at his stats because they won’t tell the full story. I mean, they are not even bad for a second-round pick rookie. In his first six games as an NBA player, he is averaging 20.6 minutes per game, 7.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. What’s more impressive, when you watch him play, it’s his confidence on the floor. This is an important quality for a point guard. He has good vision, and the game seems already slow to him. He will have very good games and many bad ones, but keep an eye on him, Maledon est bein.
THE PROGRESSION OF HAMI
One player who surprised me positively in these first two weeks is Hamidou Diallo. The third-year player (and the one with the longer tenure in the Thunder organization) looks really improved compared to last year. Once again, the stats might look “normal” or unimpressive, but his aggressiveness and ability to attack the basket are over the roof. I love how he always follows his shot (and most of the time tip-in the missed ones). Diallo is scoring two more points per game while playing the same minutes like last year. His shooting percentage from the field improved to 50% on seven attempts per game.
ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK
The Thunder played three games since last KUWTT: two losses (Nola and Miami) and one win (in Orlando). In the first three losses, Oklahoma City was still competitive, this time around wasn’t the same. The Pelicans and then the Heat marched without mercy over a shy Thunder team. The lone win came against the Magic, where OKC played a solid game on both ends of the floor.
This season, as mentioned many many times, the plan is to develop players. This will also lead to some interesting line ups. My favorite? Theo, Diallo, Poku, Muscala, Williams. On paper, this looks really bad. In my notes, I called it the tanking lineup. Let’s say it is not the best combination of players you want to have on the court at the same time. However, they played together thirty-one minutes so far, the second most played Thunder’s line up, and they have only a negative net rating of 5.6. To comparison, the starter (the most-used lineup) is a negative net rating of 0.5. There will be more of these funky line ups during the season, and I can’t wait to check them all out.
- Steven Adams looks weird in a Pelicans jersey and I miss him in OKC.
- The new Heat court and jerseys are bad. I liked the first “Vice” one, the second one was meh, this is just bad.