In the 2018 edition of the Thunder Grades, we’re going to break down what we think went well and went poorly for players and coaches. We’re going to avoid players who barely play. So, Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, Daniel Hamilton and PJ Dozier won’t be graded.
We’ll do it in there ways: The Good, the bad and the conclusion. We’ll release two a day, hopefully flying through all of these.
Previous grades: Billy Donovan
Next up: Terrance Ferguson
The rookie taken 21st in the 2017 NBA Draft was expected to learn behind Victor Oladipo and Co. However, things change. Dipo’ was shipped off to Indiana and the void left at the two-spot forced Ferguson into some action that frankly he wasn’t ready for. However, he used his length and athleticism to try and carve out a role for himself. He didn’t play with the G League much, stuck with the senior team for all but three games.
“I think I had the best rookie season,” Ferguson said. “Just a lot of people around to help me with my game.”
There are some serious bright spots. He’s three-point barrage in a win over the Lakers in early January showcased what he could really do.
Coming from a prep academy that was purely about basketball and then going overseas, his adjustment at each increased level has been tough but Ferguson has taken it in stride.
“I think a lot of guys you look at, and you notice they have that ‘it’ factor,” Paul George said. “Terrance has that ‘it’ factor. As a young rookie in this league, he’s not afraid, he’s not scared of the moment. That stands out, and that goes a long ways.”
For all his of faults, Ferguson wasn’t afraid to get dirty. He’d do whatever was asked of him and did it without complaint. Instead of being a spot up shooter, Oklahoma City would benefit by using him slashing to the rim, ala Andre Roberson.
Where to start? His experienced showed on both sides of the ball. He constantly was beat off the dribble and often left his teammates to cover his tracks, which left them in compromising positions. His shot didn’t look broken but absolutely was. Outside of the Lakers victory, Ferguson was really a non-factor. It’s really surprising, especially for being a first round selection.
“The biggest challenge? It was probably at the beginning of the season, just coming in, not playing a lot, and then having to go right into starting,” Ferguson said
Which is a bit surprising given his lack of play in the Australian league. You think he’d be used to it by now.
His splits were bad. He had some really rough defensive games and that led to him being yanked out the second he made a mistake, the Billy Donovan rookie special.
The inexperience at the professional level was obviously exacerbated this season as he was forced into starting games when he wasn’t ready. Ferguson could’ve used a year in the G League, honing his craft. Instead, he was forced to guard James Harden and getting cooked.
Ferguson definitely had more negatives than positives this season. The kid is not even 20 years old yet. So, there’s plenty of room for growth and improvements. We’ve seen it in players like Reggie Jackson. Sometimes it takes a year or two to adjust to the speed and the NBA game.
“I just want to come back a totally different player, working on my skillset,” Ferguson said. ”This offseason I definitely want to be able to make my own shot.”
That’s what Oklahoma City will need from Ferguson if he’s going to fit into the rotation of a contending team. Presti’s draft picks lately haven’t been the best. Ferguson can buck the trend by improving and getting better, avoiding the Cameron Payne way of the NBA.
In his limited minutes, Ferguson had thunderous dunks and hit some big threes. He’s 6-7 and has some real length and that goes along way in this game. He’s shown the ability to hit threes and get to the rim. He needs to put on some muscle, weighing only 184 lbs, if he’s going to play the two and three positions.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!