Bricktown Beat

Thunder Summer League 2021 comprehensive guide

Photo Credits: Oklahoma City Thunder via Twitter

After a one-year hiatus, the Oklahoma City Thunder are headed back to Las Vegas for Summer League action. Joining the rest of the NBA, the Thunder are set to play five games from August 8 until August 17.

The Thunder enter Vegas with high expectations holding the eighth-best odds at taking home their first Summer League championship, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Their odds are set to +2500.

If Oklahoma City manages to scathe the championship trophy, they will need to be one of the top two teams in the first four games of play. If a tiebreaker has to be settled, factors such as head-to-head results and score differentials will be determining factors.

Meet the team

As announced on Saturday by the organization, the Thunder’s Summer League roster will consist of 13 different players ranging from last season’s minute leader to undrafted pickups.

Theo Maledon, guard (6-foot-5; 180 pounds; 20-years-old):

Theo Maledon makes his Summer League debut with the Thunder following a rookie season that saw him lead the team in minutes played. The 20-year-old made an immediate impact for the Thunder starting in 49-of-65 of his appearances, averaging 10.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in that span. His production both handling and contributing off-the-ball fly high above your typical second-round pick.

Charlie Brown Jr., guard (6-foot-6; 199 pounds; 24-years-old):

Charlie Brown Jr. sifted his way through two 10-day deals with the Thunder last season, resulting in a two-year contract with a singular game left of the schedule. Brown Jr. has something to prove in Vegas as his deal is non-guaranteed by the Thunder — in essence, it’s a priority training camp deal. Brown Jr. averaged just 4.4 points and 1.9 rebounds with his 9 games with the Thunder last season, but his play with the Iowa Wolves in last season G-League warrants the idea of him playing as a 3-and-D wing.

Oscar da Silva, forward (6-foot-9; 230 pounds; 22-years-old):

Oscar da Silva didn’t hear his name called during this year’s NBA Draft — but the 22-year-old has already caught major attention. Since being excluded from the group of 60, Oscar da Silva has already agreed to a deal with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg of the German Basketball Bundesliga. Oscar da Silva posted 18.5 points and 6.7 rebounds with the Stanford Cardinals last year, and his mysterious face-up game could push the undrafted big into serious play.

Rob Edwards, guard (6-foot-5; 205 pounds; 24-years-old):

Rob Edwards grew into one of the most tantalizing players for the Oklahoma City Blue last season. Primarily running off of the Blue’s second unit, Edwards averaged 12.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while shooting a team-high 44.0% from deep. The guard employs immediate scoring for the roster as his pull-up jumpers, specifically from the left-wing, made him stand out from the crowd in Orlando. Edwards’ infectious offense also taps into the catch-and-shoot game, and once he gets going — it’s hard to stop him.

Josh Giddey, guard (6-foot-8; 210 pounds; 19-years-old):

The Oklahoma City Thunder shocked the NBA in selecting Josh Giddey sixth overall, but the former NBL Rookie of the Year has a lot of gas in the tank. For one, Giddey has claimed that instead of being 6-foot-8, he’s 6-foot-9. If that’s the case, he’s tied for the tallest player on the roster — he’s a point guard. Giddey made a name for himself gunning off passes in the NBL, and the expectation will be no different in Vegas. It’s fully expected that Giddey will run the half-court offense while in play while showing off just how crafty of a playmaker he is. Giddey’s only large knock to this point is his 29% three-point rate last season.

Josh Hall, forward (6-foot-8; 200 pounds; 20-years-old):

Josh Hall was gypped of a Summer League last season, but the former undrafted will be looking to make headway in Vegas. Hall battled injuries throughout his rookie season, even to the point of missing the G-League bubble, though it never deterred him. Up until the final regular-season contest, Hall had not made a lasting imprint from a statline perspective — he flipped the narrative. Hall drummed out 25 points and 10 rebounds in the Thunder’s season-closer, showing off delicate mid-air finishes and solid ball-handling in the process.

Jaylen Hoard, forward (6-foot-8; 216 pounds; 21-years-old):

Jaylen Hoard entered last season as Aleksej Pokusevski’s backup in the G-League. In his backup minutes, Hoard continued to make positive impressions to the point he controlled a starting gig at the season’s end. Hoard’s high-level play as a cutter, penetrator, and foul magnet pushed him into one of the Thunder’s two-way contracts last season — it was business as usual. Hoard’s play makes him versatile as a defender, but offensively, he has a small handicap. Hoard has yet to refurbish a jumpshot in his two professional seasons, upon that fixture — NBA suitors will start calling.

Jalen Lecque, guard (6-foot-4; 185 pounds; 21-years-old):

If Jalen Lecque’s name sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Lecque latched onto Oklahoma City’s roster as part of Chris Paul’s dealing to Phoenix, but just six days later, Lecque was moved to Indiana for TJ Leaf and a future second-round pick. Lecque is a ball of energy on offense, coined as “Baby Westbrook” for his highlight reel dunking ability. Outside of flashing above the rim, Lecque has been a bit shaky to this point, though his NBA resume sits at a mere nine games.

Tre Mann, guard (6-foot-5; 190 pounds; 19-years-old):

Tre Mann is on the shortlist of who will lead Oklahoma City in scoring. Selected 18th in the draft, Mann fits the idealistic mold of a Summer League standout as he has a knack at handling the ball, stepping back, and drilling threes in succession. His easy-bake offense trickles into his penetration game as he’s a strong finisher utilizing floaters, and a quality playmaker on drives.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, forward (6-foot-9; 230 pounds; 20-years-old):

Thunder GM Sam Presti placed a large stock on Villanova’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl moving the 34th and 36th pick to climb two spots to draft him. Robinson-Earl is a swiss army, he can do just about everything. The one hole in his game doesn’t root from any particular weakness, it’s that he has no “elite” traits as of now. That could be subject to change once the Summer League concludes. Expect him to assume a role similar to Isaiah Roby at small-ball five, lots of high-ball screens, pops, and rebound battles.

Aaron Wiggins, guard (6-foot-6; 200 pounds; 22-years-old):

Aaron Wiggins had been long pegged a rudimentary 3&D wing. At 6-foot-6 Wiggins sourced a three-point clip in the mid-thirties in addition to high-quality defense on shooting guards and small forwards. Wiggins blossomed under the pressure in both the G-League and NBA Combine, and if his growth is linear — he’ll have GM’s puzzled as to why he fell to Pick No. 55.

Emmitt Williams, forward (6-foot-6; 225 pounds; 22-years-old):

Emmitt Williams had a lackluster G-League debut last season, but his addition to the roster should indicate the scouting department sees something in him. Williams’ placed 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds with the Agua Caliente Clippers last season, and his role of an interior piece and rebounder will be staples in the Summer League.

Ryan Woolridge, guard (6-foot-3; 175 pounds; 24 years old):

Ryan Woolridge snuck onto the Oklahoma City Blue’s earning a roster spot via a tryout. He took that small glimmer of hope and ran with it. Woolridge played behind the likes of Ty Jerome, Zavier Simpson, Melvin Frazier Jr., and Rob Edwards to start the year, but game-by-game his role inflated. Woolridge’s efforts led to a 15-point explosion in the Blue’s regular-season finale in which his fourth-quarter heroics almost single-handedly punches his team a playoff bid. Woolridge is a sneaky-good athlete completing posters in both transition and in the halfcourt last year.

Head Coach: Grant Gibbs

Gibbs led the Oklahoma City Blue last season, and in years prior, held an assistant role behind Mark Daigneault within the team. Gibbs’ offense ranked as one of the G-League’s elitists last year, but the Las Vegas roster lacks much semblance. The Blue played an inside-out offense rooted through Moses Brown and Omer Yurtseven last season — they’re both gone. Under the current team, Gibbs will play in new waters under a small-ball offense. Jaylen Hoard, Josh Hall, Rob Edwards, and Ryan Woolridge played under Grant Gibbs at some point last season.

Who to watch

Josh Giddey leads the control center in terms of who to look out for. The Australian sensation dazzled his peers with cross-court passes, overhead passes, and entry passes regularly last year. Giddey is known to serve others before himself, that theory will be tested in Vegas. If Giddey gains confidence as a shot-creator or finisher, he could post a triple-double or two in the next five games.

Theo Maledon and Tre Mann tack onto the big names to watch as singular entities, but also as potential accomplices next to Giddey. Based on speculation, Josh Giddey will be the primary ball-handler. If that’s the case, a barrage of shooters will need to surround him. Theo shot in the high-forties off-the-catch in January, and Tre Mann shot 40% from three with Florida — they match his play. To top it off, both players are skilled decision-makers on the ball, helping to relieve Giddey when needed.

Oklahoma City is known to mold undrafted players into NBA contributors through Summer League such as Hamidou Diallo and Deonte Burton, that trend isn’t likely to snap. With a depleted frontcourt, Oscar de Silva will have ample opportunity to tally stats off of rebounds and interior scoring alone. If he finds his stroke from outside, then real attention will head his way. As a frontcourt notable, Rob Edwards is almost guaranteed to place a 15+ point outing off the bench — barring he receives proper minutes, of course. Edwards’ shot-creation ability combined with his deadly play on the catch packages him into the microwave category of either shooting the lights out or staying relatively quiet. With five games on deck, he’ll be making some waves.

Schedule

  • Sunday, August 8: Thunder vs. Pistons (ESPN2)
  • Wednesday, August 11: Thunder vs. Pelicans (NBATV)
  • Friday, August 13: Thunder vs. Warriors (ESPN2)
  • Saturday, August 14: Thunder vs. Pacers (ESPN2)
  • Monday/Tuesday, August 16/17: Non-championship game, TBD
  • Tuesday, August 17: Championsip game

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