The season is what it is at this point for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and there’s not much to play for outside of player development. However, that’s what we’ve watched nonstop all season long, and despite OKC’s 111-94 loss to the Boston Celtics, Mark Daigneault continues to motivate every player that touches the court to maximize their time playing.
Despite that, a large portion of the Thunder roster will be moved over the next year for other assets that better fit Sam Presti’s vision for the team. There are still a few players that Presti should keep around. These are guys that I believe are pieces for Presti to build around during this rebuild.
Shai is undoubtedly the most valuable player for the Thunder and the centerpiece to their rebuild. I think we can all agree on that. He’s an efficient, big point guard that’s already in the All-Star conversation in his third season. The Thunder’s rise to contention will be contingent on his continued growth. Under no circumstances should the Thunder move SGA.
Brown is a shocker because who saw this coming from another two-way player the year after seeing a breakout run from Luguentz Dort? I didn’t initially, but after Brown’s 20-point, 16-rebound effort against the Chicago Bulls a couple of weeks ago, I became a believer, and he’s only proved me right since then.
Like I mentioned in a previous story about Brown, he’s 7-foot-2 with a skill set that has been forgotten but is still appreciated. He’s a true big man, grinds in the paint, and pulls down seemingly everything on the offensive and defensive boards. Presti knows how beneficial having a dominant big is, and he knows how hard it is to find dominant bigs in today’s game. Brown should be here long-term.
Like Shai, Dort’s value shouldn’t have to be explained. He’s hard-working on both ends of the court. His hard work and playing style only rivals Marcus Smart, who has been beneficial for the Celtics for his entire career. Dort is precisely that for the Thunder. I don’t believe he’s going to make his money on the offensive end. While he can be instant offense, his defense is what sets him apart from the pack, and that’s why he should be a cornerstone piece in this rebuild.
Last but certainly not least is Theo Maledon. He’s not going to be a Russell Westbrook type of point guard, but he’s an incredibly efficient stereotypical point guard with all the attributes to make him OKC’s future starting guard and a near-perfect one at that. He doesn’t turn the ball over often. He doesn’t rush shots and has an incredible poise level for a guy his age (19). Not to mention, he plays with a sense of urgency and intensity on the defensive end of the floor.
Seeing this is just his rookie season, you can’t help but be highly optimistic about Theo’s future.
In OKC’s game against Boston, SGA didn’t play due to plantar fasciitis, but Dort scored 10 points before being ruled out due to concussion-like symptoms. Brown and Maledon highlighted the night for OKC in a losing effort. Maledon led the Thunder in scoring with 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals, while Brown had a monster statistical night with 21 points and 23 rebounds and recorded a double-double in the first eight minutes of play.