Going into Wednesday’s game vs. the Chicago Bulls the Thunder came in with alot of momentum, rolling past the Spurs 121-108. The Thunder’s debut went as good as you could’ve drawn up barring the circumstances (eight Thunder players out.) Even with the circumstances leaving them at a disadvantage, every player on the team gave a real reason as to why they deserve a roster spot.
The same story cannot be said after Wednesday’s disappointing loss vs. the Chicago Bulls, as they fell into a deficit early and never were able to bounce back. More on the game here.
Let’s take a look at who were the bright spots on the Thunder vs. the Bulls, as well as who left more to be desired.
Passing With Flying Colors:
Frank Jackson PG/SG
Frank Jackson was tied for the team’s leader in scoring on Wednesday dropping 15 points on 6-9 shooting, with two board and an assist, and he once again showed he could do it all on offense.
For both games, Jackson played above expectations (he went 14/2/2 in his debut,) He put his 3-level scoring on display yet again with his points coming from a variety of threes (going 3-4,) hitting a 16-foot jumper, and totaling 4 points from inside.
Moses Brown C
Two-Way Player Moses Brown had a very forgettable debut in the Thunder’s first preseason game playing just 3 minutes and his only clip coming from him missing a chip shot off a Maledon Pick and Roll.
Moses Brown actually started this game looking like he was going to have another disappointing performance as in his first minute on the court he missed two free throws and a layup. After that he didn’t miss a single field goal, going 5/5, and went 2-3 from the line. His statline: 12 points, 2 rebounds and an assist in just 10 minutes.
For the role Brown was given, about as good as you could get. All of his points besides his two free throws came from the basket, as he really does not have any sort of jumper, but that’s a-okay.
With Brown having a grip on his two-way contract, I don’t expect him to be receiving any sort of boost in minutes. As I expect to see a lot of T.J. Leaf at the Center on Friday, but there is a real case to see Moses Brown on the court more.
Al Horford C
In Horford debut game, he racked up 15/7/1 in only 15 minutes, he didn’t come in the whole half. Horford, who is 34 at this point, doesn’t possess the mobility you’d like to see from your starting center, but he does the trick. Horford expanded his game to the three point line and wasn’t holding anything back from beyond the arch, going 2 of 4. He also was set up for some easy looks inside, where he picked up the rest of his points.
Horford’s future is really unknown at the moment, but if he continues playing like this, expect for Horford to become our stronghold at center.
Theo Maledon PG
For Maledon, expecting to see him drop 20 points for the second game in a row would’ve been a bit of a stretch. Maledon 11/4/2, going 3/9 from the field, in 30 minutes on Wednesday. In terms of percentages, it was not a pretty game for him. What does need to be looked at was how he was used in Wednesday’s game.
Maledon was not even the team’s primary ball-handler in the second unit, as that duty went to Frank Jackson, even guys like Hamidou Diallo were looked at to create plays of him. His role was really a player off the catch and shoot, and if nothing was open in the first half of the shot clock then he was given a chance at the pick and roll.
It was a tad bit puzzling why his role seemed a bit diminished, but playing how he did quite frankly out of his comfort zone gives him a pass.
Darius Bazley SF/PF
Bazley has been propped up as a potential 16/8 player entering the year, in his debut, he played really just where you’d like him to tallying 7/2/2 in 19 minutes. Bazley was given the ball to isolate his defender multiple times in this game, and showed he may have a role there. The main point of emphasis going into the game however was how he stacked up on the bigger Bulls forwards, he really didn’t show any immediate impact on that level.
Other Players Include: Aleksej Pokusevski, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Isaiah Roby
More to Be Desired
Lu Dort SG
One my game preview I listed Lu Dort vs. Zach Lavine as my key matchup of the game, as Lavine’s speed and athleticism inside made him a completely different threat to what Dort has been used to (Harden.) Lavine ate Dort’s lunch as he dropped 16 points in the first quarter alone.
Alongside his lapses on defense, Dort couldn’t find the basket going 0-7 on the game, being 0-4 from the three. There were some positives from this game however, Dort was not even hesitating taking his shots from deep, something that we’ve seen him struggle with in the past.
Justin Jackson SF/PF
Jackson struggled to find any sort of rhythm going 3-11 in the game. Jackson’s plan of action going into the game was attacking the basket. He took seven shots inside, hitting two, but leaving the others off the mark, mostly falling short of the basket.
Jackson was playing time at both the three and four positions, and from how he was playing I’d hope they spot him at the four moving forward as his speed really is just not up to par with other playing at the 3.
Hamidou Diallo SG
Diallo was all over the place during the game, pretty much just trying to take the game over himself. He went just 1-8 from the field, and the majority of those eight shots came from inside.
He assumed the role of floor general in his time on the court trying to create the offense. The occasional iso-ball from him is fine, and when he is hot driving to the basket Diallo should be force-fed the ball. The issue lies when he isn’t feeling it, yet he keeps trying to make things happen, thats was the case on Wednesday.
Not Enough Sample Size: Admiral Schofield, Kenrich Williams