After Friday’s announcement that the Thunder have waived Admiral Schofield and T.J. Leaf, the Thunder’s roster has shrunken down to just 16 players, one more than the league maximum of 15. The team will have until Monday to cut down their roster by a spot to meet this league restriction.
Let’s Looks at the Roster:
PG: Shae Gilgeous-Alexander, George Hill, Theo Maledon, Ty Jerome
SG: Luguenzt Dort, Hamidou Diallo, Frank Jackson
SF: Trevor Ariza, Darius Miller, Isaiah Roby, Kenrich Williams
PF: Darius Bazley, Aleksej Pokusevski, Justin Jackson
C: Al Horford, Mike Muscala
What This Means?
Who’s Fighting For The Final Roster Spot?
Kenrich Williams- SF
Kenrich Williams was acquired via. the Steven Adams trade, that sent us back Josh Gray, Zylan Cheatham, Darius Miller, and Kenrich WIlliams. With Williams already being age 26, it seemed like a safe bet that he would be one of the first players to be cut from the roster. But having a pleasant preseason, here he is now.
Williams has really been a glue guy thus far in his career, putting up splits of 4.9/4.8/1.6 as well as 0.8 Steals, and 0.5 Blocks in just 22.5 minutes, shooting 37% from the field and 30.4% from 3. He has a little bit of everything in his game and that’s what makes him such an interesting player off the bench.
In Williams three Preseason Games with the Thunder he put up:
2.6 Points (on 2-11 shooting,) 3.0 Rebounds, 2,6 Assists, and 1.0 Steal in 16.6 minutes per game.
Despite not shooting the ball well, he was a very complimentary piece in the small-ball lineups Daigneault experimented with. Specifically when paired in the Maledon-Jackson-Pokusevski-Roby lineup that was featured, being able to keep his defenders attention on him in the offense, and being a solid defender at the 3 and 4 on defense.
For Trevor Ariza, the reasons he would be off the team are for completely different reason. For starters, he has no timetable on when he will join the team. According to Joe Mussatto from The Oklahoman, “Ariza remains focused on the same family matters that kept him from attending the bubble with the Blazers.”
The 35-year-old Ariza, is on a $12.8M expiring contract, making him a potential trade asset for teams looking to make a splash in the 2021 Free Agency class. If there are no potential trade suitors, and he wants to play for the Thunder, the expectation is that he could be the teams starting small forward upon his return.
The Thunder have been completely in support of Ariza’s departure from the team, but if they are dead set on not waiving any active players, Ariza may be the one to go. This could be done a variety of ways, stretching his contract or through a trade partner.
Ty Jerome was acquired in the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Suns for Oubre, Jerome, and other assets.
The 23-year-old guard is just one year removed from being selected 24th in the 2019 draft. In his rookie he showed off his great passing ability, and at times his shot. For Jerome, he was expected to immediately be an impact player from outside, shooting 39% from 3 in his three, he didn’t find any sort of rhythm from deep, in his rookie year going only 28% from 3.
Jerome deserves the chance to prove himself, but with him receiving zero run in the preseason games and point guards Theo Maledon and Frank Jackson shining, finding regular rotation minutes for Jerome will be extremely difficult. His best opportunity at seeing the court is the 2, but Diagneault’s lineups have seen players such as Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson at that spot coming off the bench so there’s really little wiggle room for him to play there either.