Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be taking a look at each of the players on the Thunder roster during the 2010-2011 season, assign grades, and examine some of their most memorable moments. It should prove to be a good way at keeping track of some of the best moments for each player and what to expect from them going forward.
For a grading system, we will be using the following scale:
A: Far exceeded expectations
B: Exceeded expectations
C: Met expectations
D: Did not meet expectations
F: Fell far short of expectations
We will kick start this series by going in reverse order of players who made the most contribution this season, so we will begin with one of the three players that got traded. Today, we take a look at D.J. White.
White is a 4th year player who was originally drafted by the Detroit Pistons and then traded to the Thunder in 2008. White has played sparingly in his first few seasons, with this past year representing his high water mark of games played, with 47. He saw limited action in 24 of the Thunder games this year, but at the trade deadline was sent to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Nazr Mohammed. Since joining the Bobcats, White has showed steady improvement. From the point of the trade on, White was finally able to showcase some of the offensive talent that he possesses but had never been given the chance to demonstrate. At 6'9" and 250 pounds, as long as White continues to show improvement he should always be welcome on a team's roster.
White came into the season hopeful to challenge for a back-up role on the Thunder rotation. In front of him at the power forward spot was starter Jeff Green and second year player Serge Ibaka who, like White, was talented but raw. The Thunder needed more strength and defense at the PF spot and hoped that White would be able to contribute valuable minutes.
Regular Season Grade: C-
At the beginning of the season, White was buried on the end of OKC's bench and only saw action when the team was either in foul trouble or in the midst of a blow-out. White's current strength, a solid mid-range shot, as well as physical size, was never really put to the test in OKC. I imagine that the Thunder wanted to see him challenge Serge Ibaka for the role of back-up power forward, but White was never up to the challenge and Ibaka flourished this season. I think that it was unfortunate that White was so far down on the rotation, because in the times he was in the game he did show deft movement skills and a feathery outside shot that could have paid dividends.
Unfortunately, the one area where the Thunder really needed White was on defense, and White was not able to show positive growth. Even in the minutes White did play, he showed poor defensive habits and knowledge of the game, which made him a player whom the coaching staff could not trust in key moments of the game. As a result, White became a trade piece in the Thunder's acquisition of Mohammed.
Post-Season Grade: N/A
Most Memorable Game
On March 25, post-trade, the Bobcats upset the Boston Celtics 83-81 in one of the biggest wins of the team's season. In that game, against the Celtics' defense, White scored 17 points and grabbed 6 rebounds off the bench in 24 minutes of action. The Bobcats outscored the Celtics 30-15 in the final quarter to steal the big win.
Most Memorable Single Moment
In White's return game against the Thunder post-trade, he was greeted warmly by the Thunder crowd as well as the players whom he used to join in the OKC locker room. In 12 minutes of spirited action, White scored 9 points and grabbed four rebounds. He showed great enthusiasm in his play against the guys he used to practice against, and I could tell by the Thunder players' reactions that they too were pleased that their friend and ex-teammate was finally getting a chance to shine.