Here we go with the fourteenth appointment with Keeping Up With the Thunder, and my five takes about the past week of Thunder basketball.
The Thunder played five games this past week, one win and four losses. The lone win came against the Toronto Raptors last Wednesday, 113-103. From there, on just losses. Bad ones. First in Phoenix against the Suns, 103-140, then the worst loss in Thunder history in Portland against the Blazers, 85-133. Back at home, the Thunder lost first to Detroit, 108-132, and last night against the Hornets 102-113. Oklahoma City is now tied with the Raptors for the 7th worst record in the league, 20-31.
THE POKU’S SHOW
Welcome to Poku’s show! This past week, Poku played four out of five games, and his numbers are off the roof. In 32.2 minutes of playing, he averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 3.3 turnovers. This is somehow already crazy for a nineteen years old rookie coming from Europe. To all of this, let’s add that he shot 45% from the floor (15.0 attempts per game) and 51.7% from behind the arc (7.3 per game). And here you have a crazy week for Poku! I am very happy for the young kid because he had trouble at the beginning of the season, and after the experience in the Orlando Bubble, and with more playing time, he seems to have found his rhythm.
The heavy tanking machine is in full motion, and the results are there to show it: bad losses after bad ones. They are “important” for the final goal (a high draft position) but, on the other end, are also very frustrating. It is frustrating for the players because they get smashed around night in and night out. It is frustrating probably for fans too. It’s not easy to watch your team when you know it is doing everything possible to lose. It is hard to sell this type of product also for the NBA. How can you keep casual fans interested when a bunch of teams just play to lose? Of course, there are also some positives, such as players’ development or, as mentioned many times, the super loaded upcoming draft. There are still twenty-one games left, and Oklahoma City will race with some of the worst teams in the league to lose as much as possible.
This was a great week also for the other Thunder’s rookie, Theo Maledon. Despite not shooting the ball particularly well overall, the French point guard averaged 18.0 points per game, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 3.6 turnovers. Maledon exploded for a career night against the Suns in Phoenix. He scored thirty-three points, five rebounds, and three assists. Theo was aggressive with his shot, and he finished with 10-18 from the floor and 5-7 from behind the arc. If there was a need for more proof, here it is, the French prince of OKC is on the right path to becoming one of the best youngest players in the league.
THE NICE ADDITION OF SVI
Svi Mykhailiuk is a solid addition to this Thunder team. Another little gem was found by GM Sam Presti. The third-year player became part of the rotation immediately due to injuries and tanking. And he showed that he can be an extra weapon for the upcoming year when the team will be naturally better. In the past five games, Svi averaged 12.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.2 steals. Svi shot 47.7% from the floor, 36% from three, and 81.8% from the free-throw line. Svi also likes to get up high in the air and dunk the ball. Love to see it.
- Aleksej Pokusevski set a new Thunder record for a rookie with seven three pointers against the Charlotte Hornets.
- Maledon and Poku finished the week 2nd tied with 18.0 points per game within all the rookies.
- Justin Jackson is no longer part of the Oklahoma City Thunder. On Monday, the team waived the twenty-six years old.
- Thursday, 8th April: Thunder versus Cavaliers
- Saturday, 10th April: Thunder versus 76ers
- Tuesday, 13th April: Thunder at Jazz
- Wednesday, 14th April: Thunder versus Warriors