After a week of questioning how Oklahoma City would go about refilling their roster, a resolution had surfaced in a matter of hours. This time, Presti’s final imprint came in adding forward Jaylen Hoard to the team’s second-and-final two-way contract.
Unlike recent Thunder addition Justin Robinson, this isn’t the first time Jaylen Hoard has had run-ins with the organization.
Following a two-way stint with the Portland Trail Blazers last season, Hoard signed with the Thunder affiliate Oklahoma City Blue in December via an exhibit 10 contract. In Hoard’s time with the team, he drew up averages of 9.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists competing in all fifteen contests.
On paper, Hoard’s splits are fairly illustrious for a G-League player receiving a call-up, but his on-the-floor contributions easily surpassed his box score transcript.
Under Grant Gibbs, Hoard was used as a flex residing his 22.0 minutes at both the small-forward and power-forward positions for the Blue. In Hoard’s time, Oklahoma City ran a drive-and-dish centric offense that he really never conformed to. Centers Moses Brown and Omer Yurtseven dominated smaller defenders; however with their bodies under the basket for the majority of possessions — Hoard hardly had much clearance inside. With the paint clogged up, Hoard typically camped out at the perimeter for spot-ups, but barring a 22.0% average outside, his bread-and-butter came attacking the basket.
Using his 6-foot-8 frame, Hoard loved slicing in from the perimeter off kick-outs for collective attacks on the opposition. From his efforts, Hoard asserted himself as one of Oklahoma City’s top finishers inside (59.1% inside 5 feet) while forcing contact for an average of 1.7 free throws.
With Hoard’s role constantly flickering (largely in part to Pokusevski,) the fact Hoard managed to carve a respectable offensive presence should be commended — but so should his defense. Given Hoard’s 216-pound measurable, opposing sides loved pulling at him to create open possessions under the basket, or from distance, he stayed restrained dicing out 0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks, and only 1.4 fouls playing a near safety position.
Upon Hoard’s arrival in Bricktown, he will not only reunite with his Oklahoma City Blue colleagues in Jerome, Pokusevski, and Hall, but in Moses Brown’s case — there may be a league-first at hand.
Hoard and Brown were both inked to two-way contracts last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, but after both mainly played for their affiliate, neither were retained. Fast forward to December, Hoard and Brown had been pieced together for the Blue — now they’re both together for the main club again. In an occurrence yet to be displayed, this is the first time a team’s two-way signees have been snagged via two-way contracts from an opposing club in the proceeding season.
Transitioning to the Thunder, expect Hoard to be another plug-and-play piece at both forward positions while providing a unique ball-handling role at 6-foot-8. Hoard may fetch his first minutes as soon as today (barring he’s in Oklahoma City) given the rosters flurry of injuries (Bazley, Dort, Roby), and under new two-way contract provisions — he’ll be at hand all year.