The Oklahoma City Thunder kicked off their Chicago road trip by falling to former head coach Billy Donovan and his Bulls 123-102. Zach Lavine went on a 40-point tear through three quarters, and the Thunder couldn’t maintain their defensive intensity throughout the game.
Since I summarized the game in a paragraph, I have the rest of this article to elaborate on OKC’s youthful but monstrous newcomer, Moses Brown.
Tuesday night against Chicago, Brown’s third NBA start, turned out to be his coming-out party, where he put all of his strengths into one body of work. Brown recorded his first career double-double with 20 points, 16 rebounds, and added five blocks. Brown reached his career-high both in rebounds and blocks. Also, Brown is the first player since Serge Ibaka to record a 20-plus point, 15-plus rebound, and five-plus block game.
You must remember that he’s only 21 years old, fresh out of the G-League bubble, and only in his second NBA season.
This is the potential that I saw during the preseason but went dormant after not being in the rotation when the season started. He flashed more of that potential in the G-League, but now we’ve seen it come to fruition in the big leagues during the regular season.
The NBA is an ever-changing league, and a player can flash greatness like this for a handful of games, then disappear once opposing teams catch onto what they’re doing. However, Brown has a skill set that isn’t learned. It’s natural born. His strengths include his agility for a player 7-foot-2, his timing in the paint, which enhances his shot-blocking ability and awareness on the offensive boards. He’s tenacious and inexplicably physical for a modern-day big man. Brown’s upside resembles Steven Adams, but he’s quicker and more offensive-minded in the paint.
When there’s good, though, there’s still bad. You have to take into account how young and raw Brown is. He’s lanky for a traditional big man, and while he has the ability the step out and hit the long-range shot, he’d much rather be in the paint going toe-to-toe with opposing big men. To fully develop into that player, he’s going to have to put on some weight and get a little stronger, which isn’t a warning sign. That should come naturally with multi-million dollar NBA development.
The biggest flaw in his game is how slow he is defending outside of the paint. Once you lure him 15 feet or further from the basket or leave him on an island with a perimeter player, his feet are slower than molasses.
Nevertheless, Brown has impressed many in his short time actually playing for the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s biggest red flag moving forward is not having a real center on their roster. There are not many dominant traditional centers (what Presti seems to prefer) coming up in the draft either. With Brown, though, there’s a glimpse of potential. Potential that could lead to him being OKC’s big man of the future.
But like everything else this season, only time will tell.