Author - Chuck Chaney

George needs OKC, just as OKC needs George

Sure, Russell Westbrook’s logo is on the building. However, It’s definitely a the final presentation of a year long attempt to woo Paul George.

George, who’s a free agent in about an hour, will have his choice of teams. It’s really come down to Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Oklahoma City traded for George a year ago, knowing full well that he could opt out and head to Los Angeles. The big risk, big reward of Presti’s decision is about to find a conclusion here in a matter of hours or days. By July 6, at the latest, we’ll have a position to whether or not trading assets in Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis paid off.

Over the last couple of months, the smoke signals have been going out for a bit. George is leaning toward re-signing with the Thunder. George, who was named an all-star in his first season with the Thunder, said he didn’t play up to his potential in his three-part documentary on ESPN. He understand how good the Thunder were for those two months. From Dec. 1-Jan. 27 (date of Andre Roberson’s injury). The potential for greatness is there.

On the other hand, George grew up in Los Angeles. He said he didn’t pretend he was playing for the Pacers or the Thunder. He pretended to hit game winners for the Lakers. They’re always in the back of his mind. Rightfully so. Everyone wants to find a way to win their hometown a championship. However, as you get older you realize the priorities change. For George, that’s happening. While the Lakers would ultimately be his go home spot. The Thunder currently provide a better opportunity to win a championship. Playing next to a former MVP in Russell Westbrook, George’s percentages skyrocketed into career highs.

George wants to win a ring. While LeBron James going to Los Angeles could help that cause. It’s still Oklahoma City. In the backroads of Arcadia, Oklahoma. Right down the road from the redbarn and from Pops, George is going to get a final pitch. He’s going to realize Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder are his best bet to take down the Warriors and climb the elusive ladder to win a championship.

Paul George fits Oklahoma City like a glove, from personality to play. George might not be KD. What he is though, is a quality person and player that will help the Thunder finally get out of the first round and hopefully back to the finals.

If George doesn’t even give the Lakers an interview, who does that say more about, the Thunder or the Lakers? Oklahoma City has been through a lot. They deserve this verbal commitment tonight.

Oklahoma City needs George.

George, if he’s smart, should need Oklahoma City.

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Paul George opts out of contract, will be free agent

Paul George has told the Oklahoma City Thunder he intends to opt out of his upcoming $20.7 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

We probably knew this was happening. Why only take $21 million when you can get $26 million per year? It really makes the most sense, financially for him to opt out. George has until 11:59 p.m EST to officially opt out. There’s always a chance he could opt in. However, that’s not going to happen.

George, who was traded this time last year from the Indiana Pacers, openly spoke about his interest to join the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Russell Westbrook and Sam Presti have done a fantastic job of selling Oklahoma City’s potential to the five-time all-star. Woj is reporting George is more and more comfortable with the Thunder. With a healthy lineup, the Thunder were one of the best teams in the NBA. Injuries derailed a promising season.

What makes the most financial sense is to sign with the Thunder. If George does that, he’s eligible for a five-year, $176 million contract extension on July 1. It’s easily the most money any team can offer him.

It’s highly expected George will sign a 1+1 deal, controlling his own freedom in case things go south. LeBron James started this and it’s becoming a huge trend. It gives players control and the ability to move on if they’re not comfortable.

If George signs with another team, the most he could sign for is four years, $169 million. So, what’s really $7 million in the grand scheme of things.

If it was truly about just winning, George would take a huge pay cut. Go come off the bench and win a ring like the snake did in Golden State. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense… unless LeBron James goes to Los Angles. Even then it’s questionable whether or not they’d be able to beat the Warriors and the Rockets.

George averaged 21.9 points and 5.7 rebounds while being chosen as an All-star by the coaching staff this season. He shot 40.1 percent from three, second best of his career.

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Summer League roster taking shape

The Oklahoma City Thunder are set to play in the Las Vegas Summer League for the first time in a decade. Last time the Thunder set foot in Vegas, they were the Sonics and Kevin Durant was involved.

There will be a few recognizable names for Oklahoma City but for the most part, they’ll be bunch of players just trying to get action and noticed by other NBA teams. There are some previous players who’ve gone on to big things with other NBA teams such as Dwight Buycks and Garrett Temple.

Oklahoma City will play three games in Vegas, here they are:

 

Date Opponent Time/Channel Location
Friday, July 6 vs. Charlotte 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU) Thomas & Mack Center
Saturday, July 7 vs. Brooklyn 6 p.m. (NBATV) T-Mobile Arena
Monday, July 9 vs. Toronto 2:30 p.m. (NBA TV) Thomas & Mack Center

Here’s the known roster so far:

Terrance Ferguson

T-Ferg started a handful of games and was the 21st pick overall last season. He didn’t play in last year’s summer league due to FIBA clearance and he hadn’t agreed to a contract because of the clearance. Ferguson averaged 3.1 points on 41.4 percent shooting in 61 games. He stated 12 games as well. He averaged 14.7 points on 47.2 percent shooting in 3 G League games last season.

Dakari Johnson

Dakari was a surprising signing last season. Not even a two-way deal, it was a full on contract. He performed admirably in back up duty and even started a couple of games with Steven Adams out. However, the big man out of Kentucky is still a step too slow and looks overweight. It’s unknown if he’ll stick in this league but at least he has his shot.

Daniel Hamilton

Hamilton, the G League triple-double machine, gets his shot with the Summer League team again. He starred in Orlando last season Hea veraged 11.7 points, 6.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds in only 30 minutes per game in the summer league. For the Thunder last season, Hamilton appeared in six games, averaging less than five minutes and averaging only 2.0 points per game.

PJ Dozier

The other two-way contract, Dozier was a surprise pick up by the Thunder. Out of South Carolina, Dozier played well in the G League. He appeared in He played for the Lakers in Summer League last year, only scoring two points in two games. In Thunder games, Dozier appeared in two games. He averaged a point on 50 percent shooting. So, two shots and he hit one. There we go. As for the G League, Dozier averaged 13 points on 47 percent shooting in 38 starts.

Devon Hall

Oklahoma City’s first pick in the second round. The kid out of Virginia was highly praised at the NBA Draft Combine. It’s unknown what he can do offensively as he played in an offense that was super limited and they primarily stuck to defense. The defense is nice but if he can duplicate that 42 percent three-point shooting at the NBA level, Hall will become the steal of the draft.

Kevin Hervey

Hervey might’ve blown out both ACLs but he can still ball. During his senior year at UT-Arlington, Hervey averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game last season, while shooting 33.9 percent from three-point range last season. That 33.9 percent was up from 28 percent. He continued to get better with the long ball. He was a first round talent before blowing his ACLs. Can he stay healthy? His pick at 57th overall was an easy low risk high reward pick for Oklahoma City.

Deonte Burton

Burton is no real stranger to Oklahoma City. Sort of. He starred at Iowa State. However, not catching on in the NBA, Burton went over to the Korean Basketball League. He averaged 24 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists as he was named the MVP last season. During his senior year at Iowa State, Burton averaged 15.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The 6-5 guard shot over 40 percent his senior year at Iowa State.

Awudu Abass

You may have not heard of Abass. He played last season for Olimpia Milano in Italy. He’s never had a real shot at the NBA Dream but he really hasn’t done anything to really wow you in Italy, stats wise. He averaged only 2.8 points in 11.8 minutes per game. He appeared in 45 games for Olimpia Milano throughout all levels of play last season.

Hamidou Diallo

The surprise of the draft, taken 45th overall by Charlotte from the pick they received from Brooklyn. I know, it’s confusing. However, what’s confusing is Diallo’s availability for Summer league. Diallo might be available for Summer League. The trade in which Diallo was acquired cannot be completed until July 6. So, if we see him, it’ll be the later games. If we see him at all. He’s athletic and can score in bunches. It just is unclear if we’ll see him.

While Thunder Digest won’t be in Vegas for Summer League, we’ll have your complete coverage with recaps and pointless breakdowns.

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Paul George free agency to be featured on ESPN

This isn’t the best news. Paul George’s flight into free agency is going to be broadcasted all over the World Wide Leader for everyone to see. Last time we saw something like this, LeBron James bolted for Miami.

George and SportsCenter will do a three-part series on his free agency journey, beginning to air on June 26 at 5 p.m. on SportsCenter.

The first part will dive into the George’s rise to stardom. This will be mainly a lot of Indiana Pacers highlights and US Basketball.

Part 2 will air on June 28 and will follow him in his off court journeys as he prepares to build the next phase of his career.

Part 3 will air after George makes his announcement. It’ll be approximately six minutes long and will talk about the next step after he’s announced to the world whether or not he’ll stay in Oklahoma City and what led him to that decision.

George joined the Oklahoma City Thunder last season after seven years with the Indiana Pacers. As the series documents an important point in his career, the Los Angeles-area native will be shown speaking with trusted advisors and friends, including 12-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade.

It’s unknown what this means. If you’re a Thunder fan, it’s almost like hearing “Hey, we need to talk” from your significant other. We all know what it means. However, he could be propping up his return to Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison have gone on ESPN and spoke fondly about their times in Oklahoma City, so why not George, too?

George can still opt out of his player option and still re-sign with Oklahoma City. We expect him to do exactly that. George could opt out and then re-sign with Oklahoma City for a max contract, paying him a lot more than $20 million.

Friday is the day we’ll find out what happens and hopefully, it’ll be good news. If not, Sam Presti will find a way to keep Oklahoma City in a the title chase.

In Presti we trust, right?

Official Press release: https://espnmediazone.com/us/press-releases/2018/06/paul-georges-offseason-to-be-featured-in-three-part-sportscenter-series/

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Carmelo Anthony to opt-in

Well, what we knew would happened, finally happened. Carmelo Anthony opted in on his $27.9 million contract. While many understood this was going to happen.

You don’t walk away from $28 million, it’s still also understandable for people’s frustrations. Anthony wants a ring and maybe thinks he can do it here but we’ve seen in reality that’s probably not happening. However, we cannot hate or even really be mad at someone for not passing up that type of money.

All of a sudden, Anthony is the 10th highest player in the NBA. TENTH. ONE-ZERO.

Anthony, 34, had come to Oklahoma City in hopes of becoming a trio that helped dethrone the Warriors and added that elusive championship to his already hall of fame resume. However, injuries happened and it exposed Anthony defensively and his role as the power forward position, playing a very stretched version of it, had worn thin with him and in all honesty hadn’t really worked too well.

It was apparent from the first time he interviewed with the media he wouldn’t be accepting anything less than a starting position. You also don’t trade for a player like Anthony, with his accolades and financial burden, to bring him off the bench. There were issues in which we saw other players stepping up when Anthony couldn’t. In Game 5 as Oklahoma City made their historic comeback, it was Jerami Grant who made the push, not Anthony.

Then, the open criticism of the experiment at the exit interviews. Anthony detested playing the four and once again reiterated he would not be coming off the bench.

Anthony spoke the right things throughout the season. However, it’s understood the experiment didn’t work. We can say Anthony tried. Thunder General Manager Sam Presti saw that, too.

“I give him an enormous amount of credit for the fact that he put both feet in,” Presti said. “I personally think he did an excellent job in his first year transitioning his game, working to becoming more of an off-the-ballplayer, being more reliant on other people to generate his offense, and sacrificing a lot.”

Anthony averaged 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season, both some of his career worsts. Scoring was the lowest of his illustrious career. His shooting numbers weren’t any better. His 40.4 percent field goal percentage was the worst of his career.

There are options for Oklahoma City. They could trade the 10-time all-star or they could buy him out. They could just make him come off the bench, too. However, it’s more likely Anthony will not be a member of the Thunder next season. Anthony does retain his no-trade clause in his contract.

If Oklahoma City buys out Anthony, the money they negotiate, whether it’s smaller or the whole $27.9 million, will still count agains the Thunder’s salary cap. However, if Anthony signs with another team within 48 hours, it’s completely free of the any responsibility. It’s more likely Anthony isn’t signed within 48 hours and a portion of the money would still count against the Thunder’s cap.

There’s also the wild factor of LeBron James’ decision. Cleveland could try to make a move for Anthony. It would give James another proven scorer around him, it would also provide some depth for Oklahoma City as they would probably get one or two players back in the trade.

For now, Anthony remains a member of the Thunder. Who knows if the Andre Roberson injury changed the entire course of the franchise, exposing Anthony’s liabilities to this point. We’ll never know.

What we do know is Anthony is making a lot of money now.

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Thunder acquire Hamidou Diallo from Charlotte

The Oklahoma City Thunder have acquired Hamidou Diallo from the Charlotte Hornets after the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night. Charlotte had traded for Diallo from the Brooklyn Nets. This kid might have three different NBA hats in the next three weeks. The pick was included in the most recent Dwight Hoard Charlotte-to-Brooklyn trade.

Since the trade happened after the draft, it cannot be completed until July 6, when the NBA’s moratorium period expires.

Charlotte drafted the Kentucky Wildcat 45th in Thursday’s second round. A freshman at Ketucky, Diallo averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in 37 starts for the Wildcats. The 6-5 guard out of Queens shot only 33 percent from three but really started to figure things out towards the end of his freshman year. His 22 points against Buffalo in the NCAA tournament was huge in the Wildcats moving on. However, he didn’t score in double-figures in 18 of Kentucky’s final 24 games.

Diallo, no relation to Cheick Diallo of the Pelicans, is crazy athletic. He’s not afraid to attack the paint and make contact and can really throw it down at the rim.

Diallo almost turned to the NBA before even playing a game at Kentucky. He returned to school, redshirting the 2017 spring semester at the advisement of John Calipari. He was a borderline first round selection. However, we’ve seen his stock has dropped considerably.

“Maybe I didn’t need a year of college,” Diallo said on his decision to return. “I don’t know. I just felt like I wanted to come back and play for Kentucky for a year, just figure it out. Adversity hit, and I learned what type of person I am. So I learned how to fight myself and how to fight adversity. That’s just going to make me a better player, which it already has.”

In 2017, Diallo posted one of the best vertical jumps in NBA combine history. His 2018 mark was four inches shorter (40.5 inches) but still ranked eighth of all players participating in the drill this year. His 10.53-second mark in the lane-agility drill was the third-fastest recorded at the combine.

I doubt we’ll here Presti mention anything about Diallo since the trade cannot be completed until July.

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Thunder select Kevin Hervey with 57th pick

The Oklahoma City Thunder select UT-Arlington’s Kevin Hervey with the 57th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Hervey, 22, had his share of injuries. He’s torn two ACLs. You only get two. He’s torn them both. However, when he was healthy the guy was a real beast. He averaged 20.5 points on 44.6 percent from teh floor. He only shot 34 percent three. He did average 8.5 rebounds for the Mavericks his senior season.

Hervey scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a game against the Sooners. So, he’s not completely unfamiliar to those in the Sooner State. He was selected the Sun Belt Player of the Year his junior season.

Hervey’s 7-foot-4 wing span was a top 10 wingspan at the NBA Draft combine. He’s got the length and he’s continue to improve his shooting. Despite the injuries, he’s still considered a really athletic player for his size.

He can be a dangerous shooter that is developing length. According to coaches within NCAA, he’s one of the best small conference small forwards. He’s physical enough to get in the paint and body up bigger players. He knows how to maneuver his body in the right way to get to the line. He averaged almost five free throw attempts, leading his team, his senior year.

Sam Presti will have a press conference here in a bit, discussing their potential within the organization. It’s unknown if the franchise will introduce them the way they do first round picks.

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Thunder select Devon Hall with 53rd pick

The Oklahoma City Thunder have selected Devon Hall with the 53rd pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Hall, 21, has good size at for a two-guard, 6-6. Given he went to Virginia and they literally had no real offense. It was based off just their defense, the fact he shot over 40 percent from three is eye raising. He went to the NBA combine and impressed scouts. He was considered one of the most polished players invited in May.

He wasn’t projected to go too high in the second round. He’s not the best offensive player but he’s a hard nosed worker who learned defensive fundamentals at Virginia. That could go along way in the NBA. He shot over 43 percent from three and in the league where space and pace is key.

“He’s real unselfish,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said about Hall. “He has a good way about him, too. I just marvel at that. But his maturity, with his willingness to work and not get too shook if it didn’t happen right away, was remarkable in today’s day and age.”

Hall averaged 11.7 points on 43.4 percent shooting from the floor and 44 percent from three. His real/plus minus was 10.5, one of the best in the nation. His PER was over 20. So, the stats are there but the eye test needs to be met. He’s a real three-and-D type of person.

“Sometimes you have to make sacrifices in certain situations just for the betterment of the team and we won a ton of games, so I think it helped us a lot,” Hall said.

It’s unknown if he’ll be in the immediate plans for Oklahoma City or he’ll be across the street with the Blue. That will be learned at a later day.

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Complete Thunder Draft Breakdown

In the past, the Thunder have been pretty raucous on draft night. They’ve traded up and down. They’ve made some head scratchers that turned into great picks (Andre Roberson) and others that leave you questioning what happened (Byron Mullens, Cole Aldridge, Perry Jones, Mitch McGary, Cameron Payne).

Well, the Thunder won’t be initially active in the first round this season. The 19th pick in the draft was initially Oklahoma City’s but they traded it to Utah in exchange for Enes Kanter, who then in turn traded it to Minnesota for Ricky Rubio. Had the Thunder finished 20th or higher, they would’ve kept the pick but alas, they didn’t. So, Minnesota gets the draft pick.

However, the Thunder do have a couple of picks. They’re very late in the second round but they’re something. There have been a couple of late round picks that turned into quality players. The most recent: Isaiah Thomas. He was taken last in the 2011 draft.

Othe notables who had decent careers or active

  • 2013, 55th overalL: Joffrey Lauvergne
  • 2012: 49th overall: Kyle O’Quinn
  • 2011: 55th overall: E’Twaun Moore
  • 2011: 60th overall: Isaiah Thomas
  • 2009: 55th overall: Patty Mills
  • 2007: 56th overall: Ramon Sessions
  • 2005: 56th overall: Amir Johnson
  • 2005: 57th overall: Macin Gortat
  • 2002: 56th overall: Luis Scola

So, the choices are slim and and not many over the years. However, it’s possible. What we do know is unless this player has as fantastic camp, he’s most likely going to end up across the street at the Cox Center, playing for the OKC Blue.

Assets

Draft picks

  • 2018 53rd overall pick
  • 2018 57th overall pick (from Boston in PJ3 trade)
  • 2019 First round
  • 2019 second round
  • 2020 second round

A thing to note, You cannot trade consecutive first round picks, also known as the Stepian rule. Oklahoma City already has traded the 2018 first round pick and the 2020 first round pick, so that 2019 pick can really only be dealt on draft night next season.

Potential trade pieces

Kyle Singler – two years, $10.3 million (team option, non-gauranteed second year)

Dakari Johnson – one year, $1.4 million

Unsigned draft picks

First Round: None

Second-rounders: DeVon Hardin (2008-50th), Yotam Halperin (2006-53rd), Sofoklis Schortsanitis (2003-34th), Szymon Szewczyk (2003-35th), Paccelis Morlende (2003-50th), Abdul Shamsid-Deen (1990-53rd)

Trade Exceptions

  • Trade Exception (Domantas Sabonis, expiring July 6, 2018) — $2,550,000
  • Trade Exception (Victor Oladipo, expiring July 6, 2018) — $1,491,042

As you see, there aren’t really a lot of options for the Thunder to move players. A couple of picks but in reality, the assets aren’t there. Oklahoma City is notorious for letting trade exceptions expire.

Draft Prospects

Here are a few players that are being linked with the Thunder from mock drafts and other “experts” around the world wide web

Rawle Alkins

Age: 21
Height: 6-4
Weight: 225
Position: Shooting Guard
School: Arizona
Stats: 13.1 points on 43.2% FG, 35.9% 3PT, 4.8 rebounds

Alkins is being called a sleeper. So, maybe all the interviews with Sports Illustrated and the Ringer might make him go higher than No. 57. The No. 21 recruit in 2017 out of New York, Alkins may not be the brightest star in Arizona’s studded lineup. He didn’t quite show up in the NCAA Tournament for Arizona. Alkins was once an early second round pick if he’d left his freshman year but has dropped staying another year.

Malik Newman

Age: 21
Height: 6-4
Weight: 190
Position: Shooting Guard
School: Kansas
Stats: 14.2 points on 46.3% FG, 41.5% 3PT and 5.0 rebounds

Newman is well known around these parts. He’s been a part of a Kansas crew who’s been terrorizing the state for a couple of years. This could be a really good fit for Oklahoma City. He’s been projected at 53rd. He’s a solid shooter but lacks size. At 6-4, he’s a bit undersized at the two-guard but didn’t play a lot of point guard at Kansas. That could be a steep learning curve for the 21-year old. I think if it’s the right fit, Newman could become a solid rotational player.

Donte Grantham

Age: 23
Height: 6-8
Weight: 216
Position: Power Forward
School: Clemson
Stats: 14.2 points on 56% FG, 41.9% 3PT and 6.9 rebounds per game.

Grantham tore his ACL back in January and could be ready by camp from the reports. Sports Illustrated says someone has promised to draft Grantham in the second round. Oklahoma City has a big history of promising players draft picks. He’s a solid player in the ACC but really was undersized for the four position. At only 216 lbs., he’d get pushed around by almost anyone in the NBA. For reference, Serge Ibaka is 240 lbs.

Justin Jackson

Age: 21
Height: 6-7
Weight: 225
Position: Wing
School: Maryland
Stats: 9.9 points on 36.6% FG, 25% 3PT and 8.1 rebounds per game

The wing player out of Maryland was once a Top 40 high school career, he missed most of this season with a torn labrum. That caused his numbers to drop as he tried to play through the injury before missing the final 21 games of the season. He shot over 40 percent from the field and almost 38 percent from three when he was healthy. He’s not super consistent and really wasn’t used on the defensive side, hiding him a lot.

Obi Enechionyia

Age: 22
Height: 6-10
Weight: 220
Position: Small Forward
School: Temple
Stats: 10.8 points on 38.1% FG, 35% 3PT grabbing 5.8 rebounds and blocking 1.4 shots per game

Enchionyia had a chance at playing soccer but chose basketball instead. His time at Temple was productive and he’s a quality candidate but I’ll be surprised if Enchionyia is even drafted. He’s a tall small foward with great length but he’s a defensive liability despite his blocking rate. He doesn’t move well off the ball but can get shots up quickly if he gets hot.

Devon Hall

Age: 21
Height: 6-6
Weight: 204
Position: Shooting Guard
School: Virginia
Stats: 11.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 43.2% 3FG

He’s not projected to go anywhere in the second round. However, scouts raved about him at the NBA combine. He’s not the best offensive player but he’s a hard nosed worker who learned defensive fundamentals at Virginia. That could go along way in the NBA. He shot over 43 percent from three and in the league where space and pace is key.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

Age: 21
Height: 6-8
Weight: 205
Position: Combo wing
School: Kansas
Stats: 14.6 points on 43.4% FG, 44% 3PT

Mykhailiuk is a perfect draft and stash player. He’s probably not going to make it in the NBA as he’s just a sharp shooter with no real other abilities. He doesn’t move off the ball well. He doesn’t defend. However, he can get super hot and hit 5-6 threes in a row. That would be key for someone like the Thunder, who struggled a lot over the last few years hitting threes. Mykhailiuk could play over seas for a year or two before coming over to the Thunder ala, Alex Abrines.

Aaron Holiday

Age: 21
Height: 6-1
Weight: 185
Position: Point Guard
School: UCLA
Stats: 20.3 points on 46.1% FG, 42.9% 3PT and 5.8 assists per game.

I doubt Holiday is around for the Thunder at 53. I’ll be honest. I’d like to see them trade up and secure him. He’s the brother of Jrue Holiday and was nothing but solid at UCLA. It would be nice to give Russell Westbrook a capable back up if we know for sure Raymond Felton isn’t returning to Oklahoma City. He has a high turnover rate, which probably came from his touches. I see a mini-Westbrook all over Holiday.


The NBA Draft is Thursday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN. The Thunder probably won’t see their name called until about 8:45 p.m. Unless they trade up, which is a legitimate possibility. If the Thunder don’t, we’ll see them pick at No. 53 and No. 57, respectively. We’ll have your complete coverage of the draft and the Sam Presti post draft press conference as well.

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Thunder Grades: Josh Huestis

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, Terrance Ferguson

Next up:

Josh Huestis

The Good

Huestis in his first season with quality minutes wasn’t what everyone expected. He has super shining moments where we sat back and were thinking “wow, this guy is going to make another team a good player on a decent contract.”

He appeared in 69 games, started in 10. He only averaged 2.3 points per game and it felt he was underutilized. Ignore his abhorrent shooting splits. It felt as when Huestis was in the game, the Thunder were feeling it. That’s why the eye test and numbers don’t always align with each other.

“It’s not linear,” Huestis said. “It’s going to be ups and downs and all that. Anybody who thinks that it’s always going to be sunshine is kind of crazy.”

Huestis defensive growth is a huge reason why the Thunder see something in the Stanford alumnus. His ability is almost like Andre Roberson but not as elite. He’s growing and you can tell he’s raw. He’s a dominate G League player and trying to move that offensive ability to the NBA game.

The Bad

It’s unknown what real value he brings to the Thunder. When you look at his shooting splits, he has some god awful numbers. To the point, you may not want someone on their team. As we said, difference between eye test and stat lines.

“If you compare this year to the last few years, it’s a huge step forward for me in terms of working my way into the rotation, being a guy that sees minutes in big games,” Huestis said. “That was a huge step forward.”

In his 10 starts, Huestis never scored more than six points in any of the starts. He shot only 31.5 percent from three in those starts. He provided little to no real offensive threat when on the court. It was to the point towards the end of the season, he was left open when he shot a three. Teams really weren’t worried about his deep threat.

The real difference is the 69 games played. HIs minutes per game were about the same as last season but his production was way down. There are numerous reasons why. The difference in minutes. Starting along three lethal scorers takes the ball out of his hands. Shooting inefficiencies are why as well. We’re not even talking about his 30 percent free throw percentage. It was almost more worth to foul him than to let him make a bucket.

The Conclusion

Huestis future probably isn’t in Oklahoma City. If any indication of how this season went, it’s probably for the best. He’s probably going to find the right scenario, like Jeremy Lamb did. Sometimes a change of scenery will be the best for any team and player. For Huestis, that may be what’s best.

“Obviously I’d like to stay in Oklahoma,” Huestis said. “It’s the only place I’ve known. I’ve made a home here, and I love the city, love the team, the organization”

We’ve mentioned a couple of times, numbers don’t tell the story. That’s the same with Huestis. He was able to make an imprint on the game with his movement and defensive play. Despite his offensive woes, he was a solid defender and that led to him finding playoff time against someone like Donovan Mitchell.

For whatever happens with Huestis, he’s a bit of an underachiever and that’s not really all his fault. Donovan’s weird issues with him and finding minutes for him is awkward. It’s like Huestis was forced upon and he just had to plug him in at his own cringing.

We hope Huestis has a solid career wherever he goes. He’s an intelligent player and an even nicer player.

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