Are we looking at the future of Thunder basketball? - Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
We break down the free agent signings of Hasheem Thabeet, DeAndre Liggins, and Daniel Orton.
So, here at SB Nation, we like to do theme days. Basically, days where all the teams blogs get together and give their opinion about a certain issue regarding their team. Unfortunately, in a league with 30 teams, it's hard to find an issue that they all have in common.
And on this theme day, the Thunder don't have a lot to discuss. Why? Well, because it's free agent theme day. The Thunder picked up three free agents in the off-season, all for minimum deals. Two of them, DeAndre Liggins and Daniel Orton, have combined for just under 5 non-garbage time minutes. The other guy, Hasheem Thabeet, rarely makes an impact in his 11 minutes per game.
But hay, we never talk about these guys, so we might as well throw them a bone. Without further ado, here's a quick breakdown of this off-season's "acquisitions"....
Hasheem "The Dream" Thabeet is a well-publicized draft bust who failed to make any sort of impact with three different franchises before coming to Oklahoma City. It's well known that he was a project, but he literally might have fallen out of the league if the Thunder didn't pick him up.
Well, has he improved? Is he going to be a serviceable backup center for one of the league's best franchises? The short answer is no. I really don't understand what people are talking about when they say Thabeet is "improving" or really "gaining confidence". He's posting stats that are virtually identical to his rookie season. His plus minus is the worst among the Thunder's rotation, even below Eric Maynor, who was recently benched for performing poorly. He always fumbles the ball out of bounds, he can't provide any post defense other than a lucky block or steal that comes from standing in the center of the lane, his offense consists entirely of putbacks, and he's slow getting up and down the floor.
His upside? Well, on one singular play during a game against a team I can't remember, he swished a wide-open 10 foot jumper from the baseline. That's the best I've seen out of him. I really hate to hate on the guy, because he's got the best Twitter account ever. But the reality is, if the Thunder had somebody or anybody to replace him right now, they'd jump on the chance. With the salary sitting on the hard cap, no help is in sight, and it appears they'll either have to ride the Thabeet train for the rest of the season or go small. I'd rather do the latter.
DeAndre Liggins came into training camp as one of those guys you just couldn't bear to cut. He showed energy and passion, got minutes with the starters in the Pre-Season, and looked like he could be an emergency defensive option. Thus, the Thunder signed him as the 15th man before the James Harden trade. After the trade went down, Liggins was promoted to the 13th man slot.
As he's buried deep on the bench, he doesn't really get a lot of time. But, Scott Brooks did use him once in a game time situation against Washington, to add defense to the perimeter. The result was an overall negative. Liggins definitely brought a level of intensity to the defensive end, but when paired with Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha, it made for some pretty terrible offensive results. He knows where to be on the floor to complete plays and is a smart player, but his shot isn't consistent and he doesn't have the athleticism or finesse required to finish around the rim. Still, for a 13th guy and emergency defensive replacement, you could certainly do a lot worse.
Daniel Orton is lucky to be in the league. After the Magic let his contract expire, they weren't particularly interested in resigning him, and the Thunder signed him to their training camp roster. Some wanted the Thunder to cut a guy like Lazar Hayward to make room for him, and they got their wish when the Harden trade went down. A couple days after being released, the Thunder picked him back up and slotted him as the 14th man. He's seen a total of two minutes this season, so I can't say much about him, but from what I've seen of him in the pre-season and with the Magic, the guy just doesn't have the skills to be an NBA big guy. He has no shot, no touch around the basket, and fouls too much defensively. The only reason he's on the team right now is because he bangs with Perkins and Thabeet in practice, he looks eerily like Russell Westbrook, and he went to Bishop McGuinness, a local private school.
What do you think of the Thunder's off-season acquisitions? Let us know in the comments!