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Oklahoma City Blue outlook: Tracking last season’s roster

Photo Credits: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

After opening the season with a league-best 7-1 record, the Oklahoma City Blue endured a grueling 1-7 end-cap that pushed themselves from a then contender to being out of the playoffs via tiebreaker. Though gut-punching, last season’s Blue team racked up a hoard of accolades ranking first in offensive rebounding (15.7 OREB), first in rebounding (57.4 REB), third in scoring (115.9 PPG), and third in assists (27.2 AST), among others.

Fast forward to the present-day, the Oklahoma City Blue are set for a facelift.

As announced by the Oklahoma Blue franchise on Tuesday, the Blue will take on a 14-game showcase before entering a 36-game regular season. For the time being, two-way add-ons in Aaron Wiggins and Paul Watson Jr. are expected to be mainstays on the Oklahoma City Blue roster, even guard Vit Krejci could see some time in the G-League — but what about the rest of the pack?

Here’s the breakdown of what every player from last season’s Blue team is up to:

Aleksej Pokusevski

2020-21 Stats: 7.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists

Photo Credits: Alonzo Adams/USA Today Sports

Status: Playing for Thunder

The Serbian Assassin opened G-League play in hopes of resuscitation following a shaky opening to his rookie campaign. Pokusevski had stints of bleakness with the Blue, however, that was easily overshadowed by his plethora of highlight-reel performances. Poku took major strides after being recalled by the Thunder averaging 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.7 post-All-Star break.  

Pokusevski’s G-League stint was a success story, but barring injury, the 19-year-old will not take any more trips to the Blue. Instead, Pokusevski is expected to square off against Darius Bazley for the Thunder’s starting power forward spot. If Poku missed the starting unit, he’ll be a high-usage member on Mark Daigneault’s bench.

Ty Jerome

2020-21 Stats: 12.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists

Photo Credits: Alonzo Adams/USA Today Sports

Status: Playing for Thunder

Ty Jerome’s venture to the G-League was originally intended to provide the sophomore guard a rehab center for his strained ankle; the plan worked to perfection. Jerome cemented a sturdy role under the Blue’s system, and he stayed true upon joining the Thunder. Post-bubble, Jerome tantalized fans averaging 10.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists while shooting 42.3 percent from three.

Mark Daigneault will have his hands full allotting guard minutes among nine different backcourt members, Jerome will be one of them. Though Jerome may see a time cut to names in Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, and Theo Maledon, it is still expected the 24-year-old will have the platform to showcase his skills on the Thunder.

Moses Brown

2020-21 Stats: 18.5 points, 13.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks

Photo Credits: Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Traded to Mavericks

After assuming G-League First-Team and All-Defensive honors, it took no time for Moses Brown to receive an outpour of support following the end of his G-League tenure. The 7-foot-2 big recorded 20 points and 16 rebounds in his fourth game back with the Thunder, placed 21 points and 23 rebounds against the Celtics, and put an exclamation on the year posting 24 points, 18 rebounds, and 7 blocks in his final regular-season game. In all, Brown averaged 8.6 points and 8.9 rebounds across 43 games with the Thunder.

The former Bruin earned his stripes after leaving the Blue, earning himself a 4-year contract with the Thunder — but it was not meant to be. Oklahoma City elected to move the big early in the NBA offseason, packaging him alongside fellow big Al Horford in exchange for Kemba Walker and the No. 16 pick. After a mere month with the Celtics, Brad Stevens played hot potato with the center moving him in efforts to garner guard Josh Richardson. He is expected to open next year for the Dallas Mavericks.

Josh Hall

2020-21 Stats: 2.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists

Photo Credits: Soobum Im/USA Today Sports

Status: Waived by Thunder

Unless you watched intently, it was pretty easy to miss that Josh Hall even made an appearance for the Oklahoma City Blue. Hall’s time in Orlando was rather dowdy as the forward placed 15 minutes before being pulled from G-League play entirely. In Hall’s defense, the Durham native had been dealing with both knee and health-and-safety issues while in the bubble, but as a result, he scurried back to Oklahoma City with little resume. In his return, Hall had his ups-and-downs, ultimately capping the year with a 25-point, 11-rebound outing against the Clippers.

The Oklahoma City Thunder exercised a $1.5 million qualifying offer to Hall over the offseason. In August, the Thunder put pen to paper signing Hall to a two-way contract, his second-consecutive with the roster. The plan was a go for Hall to star with the Blue while making appearances with the Thunder, but the initial route has made a detour. As of Monday, the Thunder elected to waive Josh Hall for wing Paul Watson Jr., making Hall an unrestricted free agent, effective immediately. 

Jaylen Hoard

2020-21 Stats: 9.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 blocks

Photo Credits: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

Jaylen Hoard’s tenure with the Blue is a prime example of making the most out of your opportunities. Hoard proved to be one of Oklahoma City’s more consistent players on the roster, but the insertion of Aleksej Pokusevski effectively killed any shot of Hoard playing big-time minutes. Despite the shave in looks, Hoard asserted himself around the basket while also defending both threes and fours to the point that once his deal was up, the Thunder upgraded his deal to a two-way contract. Hoard’s consistent presence had been felt at the next level placing averages of 6.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 19 appearances with the Thunder.

The Oklahoma City Thunder did not exercise a qualifying offer towards Jaylan Hoard over the offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent. Hoard netted an opportunity to play with the Thunder’s Summer League in Vegas, but the two-way signing of Josh Hall cinched the gap on the 22-year-old’s most conventional route at making a return.

Omer Yurtseven

2020-21 Stats: 15.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks

Photo Credits: Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Signed by Heat

Omer Yurtseven opened as Moses Brown’s wingman — he ended as his successor. Yurtseven feasted with the Blue, emerging as a trusty back-to-basket big for the early segment of the year, but a late three-point breakthrough took the Turk’s game to another level. Yurtseven finished his regular-season shooting 7-of-12 (58.3%) from downtown, asserting himself not only as an interior presence but also as a threat on the perimeter. Yurtseven’s game resembled that of a mini Al Horford setting high-ball screens, playing in the pick-and-pop, and abusing his 7-foot frame in the post.

The Oklahoma City Thunder carried an extra two-way contract following the signing of Moses Brown, but Thunder GM Sam Presti opted to pass on Yurtseven. Yurtseven made use of the newfound free time using the spring to workout in Miami. Coincidentally enough, the Miami Heat later signed the big man to a deal in May. Yurtseven’s inside-out game proved dominant in Summer League play, averaging 26.0 points and 13.5 rebounds across two games. Yurtseven’s success earned him another contract with the Heat as he’ll be fully guaranteed for this season.

Rob Edwards

2020-21 Stats: 12.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists

Photo Credits: Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Played for Thunder Summer League

Rob Edwards climbed the Blue’s ladder to become the roster’s three-point marksman last year shooting to the tune of 44 percent from distance. Edwards’ efforts from the perimeter tapped into the interior as his three-level scoring ability cemented himself as a staple under Grant Gibbs. Edwards’ microwave-Esque play generated the Arizona State alum some buzz following the G-League bubble — but the guard went unsigned.

Rob Edwards was one of four Blue players to join the Thunder’s Summer-League team in Vegas; he stood out from the pack. Edwards’ quick-fire scoring translated seamlessly to the Summer League dropping 23 points on two separate occasions while feasting in isolation. Edwards has been seen working out with Thunder guard, and former ASU teammate, Lu Dort on several occasions this offseason, but no agreement between Edwards and the Thunder have been agreed upon. As of now, Edwards is an unrestricted free agent. Though, if resigned, it’s expected the 24-year-old will carry a large amount of weight within the offense.

Chasson Randle

2020-21 Stats: 20.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists

Photo Credits: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

Chasson Randle played a feeble two games under Grant Gibbs last season, however, he made them count. Following the Orlando Magic losing guards Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony to injuries, they opted to take a swing on the guard with a two-way contract. Randle cherished a respectable role in the Magic’s rotation averaging 6.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in a 20.8-minute palate across 41 games. 

The 28-year-old journeyman did not receive a qualifying offer from the Orlando Magic over the offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent. Prior to joining the Thunder, Randle played for nine different organizations across multiple different countries. Randle’s career has included a flurry of twists-and-turns to this point, so it’ll be interesting to see where he’ll land next.

Zavier Simpson

2020-21 Stats: 9.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists

Photo Credits: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Played for Lakers Summer League

The Oklahoma City Blue utilized their first-round draft choice to select Zavier Simpson in the 2020 G-League draft. Simpson lived up to his expectations pioneering Grant Gibbs’ pace-and-space offense playing as the perfect glue guy to the team making good use of his combination of penetrating and passing ability. Simpson starred in stints with the Blue at times outclassing Thunder members in Ty Jerome and Aleksej Pokusevski as a passer, though his work was not enough for a deal past the G-League.

Simpson opted to join the Los Angeles Lakers in Summer League play this offseason. Simpson hardly saw the court in his four appearances in the purple and gold averaging 2.5 points and 2.5 assists in 13.1 minutes. Following a successful rookie campaign, it is expected that Simpson will fetch some buzz across both G-League and overseas clubs, but no signing has occurred to this point. 

Antonius Cleveland 

2020-21 Stats: 15.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists

Photo Credits: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Signed with Illawarra Hawks (NBL)

Antonius Cleveland joined the Blue fresh off a two-way contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Cleveland, age 27, aided a young Blue team with veteran guidance, and rightfully so — he received minutes. Cleveland was a machine for moments in the G-League dominating at all three levels, though the forward also placed some shaky outings. 

After four seasons of bouncing between the NBA and G-League ranks, Cleveland opted to break the streak of attempting to climb the NBA ladder this offseason, inking a deal with the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League in Australia. Cleveland will join the Hawks as one of a few NBA-tenured players. The roster is headlined by former Bulls center Cameron Bairstow.  

Ryan Woolridge

2020-21 Stats: 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists

Photo Credits: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Signed with Iraklis

Ryan Woolridge started as an open-tryout addition for the Oklahoma City Blue, but by the end of the year, he almost single-handedly sprouted the team a playoff berth. Woolridge flourished around the basket, sneaking in for backdoor cuts or soaring in for posterizing flushes. By season’s end, Woolridge had Blue fans captivated, wishing to see more from the guard.

Woolridge participated with the Oklahoma City Thunder in Las Vegas, however, he had also signed a deal with Iraklis of the Greek Basket League. The 6-foot-3 lightning bolt played 20.1 minutes on average with the Blue, so the hope is he’ll be better integrated within his new club.

Melvin Frazier Jr.

2020-21 Stats: 6.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists

Photo Credits: Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Joined Wizards Summer League

When Melvin Frazier Jr. first signed with the Oklahoma City Blue, the bar was high. Leading into his Blue-stint, the wing recorded averages of 18.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists for the Lakeland Magic. Frazier Jr. saw a fraction of his previous playtime under Coach Gibbs. Frazier Jr. struggled to find his play with the Blue roster, never finding his groove across 12 games.

Melvin Frazier Jr. joined the Washington Wizards’ Summer League-roster over the offseason, but as a result of widespread health-and-safety protocols throughout the team, Frazier Jr. did not see the floor. Frazier Jr. currently sits as an unrestricted free agent.  

Vincent Edwards

2020-21 Stats: 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists

Photo Credits: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

Vincent Edwards rejoined the Blue for the 2020-21 season after an initial first meeting in 2019. Edwards was relegated to the bench for the majority of Oklahoma City’s time in the bubble, though he did breathe some life as a sharpshooter.

Though there was chatter Edwards participated in a Summer mini-camp for the Warriors, the Purdue alum did not play in Las Vegas. Edwards had reportedly been in “advanced talks” with Lega Basket Serie A team Fortitudo Bologna, however, nothing officially has been agreed upon.

Phil Booth

2020-21 Stats: 8.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists

Photo Credits: Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

Status: Signed with Filou Oostende

The Oklahoma City Blue tacked on Phil Booth to their roster as a replacement for guard Chasson Randle, he was a pleasant surprise. Booth was nothing more than a moniker on the stat sheet for the grand portion of the G-League bubble, but three double-digit outings proved the 25-year-old had a tangible grasp scoring at all three levels. 

Since wrapping up his time with the Blue, Booth has signed a deal with Belgian club Fliou Oostende of the BNXT League. The 6-foot-2 guard should see an uptick in usage next season. 

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