The wait is finally over — Gabriel Deck will suit up for the Thunder tonight.
This news comes after almost three weeks of hindrances, awaiting a visa, traveling to Oklahoma City, and clearing health-and-safety provisions, just to name a few.
Deck was cleared to join the Thunder late Tuesday evening, but the Thunder’s ongoing East coast trip stretched the forward’s first impressions until tonight.
As outlined in previous articles on Deck, the 26-year-old is making $3.87 million on the year, and with just 10 games left on the schedule — it’s inevitable he will see a fair share of time on the floor.
When Mark Daigneault was asked about Deck’s availably upon arrival he said, “He’s [Deck is] going to join us and we’re going to try to get him in the mix pretty quickly because we’re excited about seeing him play.”
At 6-foot-8, Deck has been a renowned all-around asset at both forward positions, and with a roster defined by flexibility this season, it may be a safe bet to assume the Argentinian will split time at both spots.
Barring an injury update, Deck will share time amongst Aleksej Pokusevski, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Kenrich Williams at the three while bartering minutes at four with Darius Bazley, Isaiah Roby, and Jaylen Hoard (has played 17 minutes in the last three games.)
One thing to prepare for in the game — Michael Cage puns. Deck was coined “El Tortuga,” or “The Turtle” across his eleven-year career and headed into the ‘Peake, the name isn’t going anywhere. If you thought Church League and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe references were too much, that will be an appetizer for tonight’s comedy club. In anticipation, expect Deck’s slow speed yet aggressive tenacity around the basket to catch a “turtle” reference, or latch onto the “Tortu” and “Poku” club before it’s too late.
Deck, as aforementioned, is not a fast 6-foot-8 athlete by NBA standards, however; his prowess at initiating the contact falls right in line with Oklahoma City’s free-throw aspirations — and with a soft touch inside, he’s fit for the job. Deck won’t wow you with his athleticism (his flashiest dunk is a two-handed rim grazer,) but he will be given his passing ability. The forward could make a mixtape plastered with jump passes, no-looks, and whatever this move is.
To make Deck’s polarizing playstyle even more of an enigma, his standstill jumper resembles a 70-year-old at the YMCA — almost zero lift. On the flip side, his fadeaway and pull-up jumpers are not only speedy, but he gets a sizeable amount of takeoff en route to his release.
One of “The Turtle’s” sneaky good wrinkles in his game comes from his post-work as with the speed deficiency, he’ll use his 231-pound body on smaller defenders to almost bulldoze his way to the basket. Plus, when you take into account the EuroLeague has no three in the key violation, he’s much more accustomed to closing in on large defenders, and given Oklahoma City’s small-ball lineups — Deck will see an ample amount of opportunity inside.
Deck should likely start off the bench in this game, but with Zion Williamson suiting up for New Orleans — a Deck-Williamson matchup is ideal.
Coverage for the game will tee off at 8 p.m. CT on Bally Sports Oklahoma in which for this first time this month, the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-41) attempt to build a winning streak by routing the New Orleans Pelicans (27-35.)