I’ve held back long enough. Theo Maledon is the greatest player in the history of the universe! There I said it. Wow, that was a weight lifted off my shoulders.
The Oklahoma City Thunder took Theo with their 34th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Nobody knew it at the time, but Sam Presti had done it again. He hit a diamond in the rough one more time. Former San Antonio Spurs legend Tony Parker agrees.
“A player like that should have been in the top 10. I told him he had to be played and to respect the club’s plans.” Parker said Parker blames Maledon’s former coach Zvezdan Mitrovic for Theo falling in the draft. “The way (Mitrovic) treated (Maledon), it cost him a place in the first round,” Parker told French news outlet L’Equipe, according to EuroHoops.net.
Maledon registered his first career double-double against the Atlanta Hawks, finishing with 13 points and 12 assists. The 12 assists equals Oklahoma City Thunder legend Russell Westbrook’s record as the most assists for a rookie. This has already been an impressive first campaign by the French man as he put up 24 points against the Brooklyn Nets, where he also went a staggering 6-of-6 from three-point range. It’s not just the offensive side of the game Maledon has shown ability as he displayed against the Houston Rockets back in February, where he recorded six steals showing his two-way ability in the future. Maledon finished Friday night with 13 points, 12 assists, four rebounds, and one steal.
“The thing that he did tonight — I’ve talked a couple of times about him playing more aggressively hitting the gas, and he’s had little flickers of that throughout the course of the season, but I thought tonight he played in that mode, and I thought it created a lot of advantages for him,” head coach Mark Daigneault said.
Maledon’s biggest weapon can’t be seen on a stat sheet it’s what he has shown he has between his ears, and that’s his elite level of composure and maturity. Going professional at the age of 16 helped him adapt to physicality at a young age while helping him grow into his 6ft 5 body. The Thunder and its fan base have spent the last 11 years watching possibly the most explosive and ferocious point guard the league has ever seen. Theo Maledon is definitely not that. If Theo Maledon is what the Thunder have been crying out for many years, and that’s an even keel playmaker that doesn’t get affected by situations outside his control or an out of nowhere blood feud against the opposition’s 15th man on the bench that ends up costing the team a playoff game or two.
Maledon is top seven in all major stats for rookies that have played more than 20 minutes per game 6th in minutes (25.2), 7th in points (7.9), 5th in assists (3.2), 5th in rebounds (2.8), 5th in field goal percentage (40.3) on seven shots per game, 4th in three-point percentage (37.7) on four shots per game. Theo has relished his opportunity to start for the Thunder because of a thumb injury to veteran guard George Hill. Still, it has been a two-way street as the Thunder and coach Mark Daigneault has benefited from having Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Maledon on the court together and not giving opposition guards an easy night on defense with the Thunder’s backcourt play.
As a rookie, Maledon is far ahead in his development, with the ability to hit unbelievable passes that go along with a three-ball. Theo is a combination at guard that has been extremely hard to find, but there is still room to grow, which is extremely exciting for the franchise and its fan base. Once he grows into his body and gets used to the league’s speed, Theo will become more aggressive and confident with his place in the league. It will help him that Presti is building his second Thunder generation, and its future is already super bright with guys like Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley, and Lu Dort.
Theo Maledon is a Greg Popovich dream. Unfortunately for him, the French Prince of OKC isn’t going anywhere! Oklahoma City you’ve found your next banner to go up alongside 4, 35, and 0. 11 has next.