Hey Thunder Nation!!
Steven Adams returned to the Oklahoma City Thunder line-up and posted 11pts, 9 boards, and 3 assists in the team’s most complete game of the season. But I’m not going to talk about Adams even though he is averaging a double-double for the month of December and blossoming into the star I predicted 2 seasons ago. I said then there was more to Adams game and I have no hesitation repeating it today.
Adams’ numbers improve each year and I’ll let you in on another prediction, his scoring average today isn’t as high as it will be by season’s end. On top of his actual court play, we are also seeing the dawning of a young floor general as well. For all of Steven’s off-court on-camera playfulness we also see, when asked the right question, a very sharp professional that is learning the nuances of his craft at an extremely high level and applying that knowledge vocally as well as physically on the court.
But again, I’m not going to talk about Adams or brag on any predictions I made that are coming true now. I’m much too humble for that and will settle for a very gratifying, I told you so, and move on.
No, today I want to start a conversation about the man who stepped in when Adams found himself sidelined twice this season with concussions. Dakari Johnson. Granted, the numbers I’m about to show are a small sample size, but there is no getting around the Thunder sitting at 4 and 1 in games that Dakari started during Adam’s absences.
When you consider that just a year ago Johnson was playing in the D-League for the Oklahoma City Blue, Dakari’s 4 and 1 starting mark while stepping in for the Thunder’s most consistent player during a rocky 16 and 15 start is impressive.
Sure the loss was a pounding to the Knicks and two of the wins were against the lottery bound Mavericks and Bulls, but this Thunder team has experienced worse losses and less impressive wins that Dakari had nothing to do with.
Blame WTLC’s Dom Flaim for my enthusiasm about Johnson. He was the one that finally convinced me to trust the advanced stats at nba.com more than Basketball Reference, and the numbers I saw got my attention.
Again, the sample size is small, only 113 minutes played, but the majority of those minutes, 84:30, are from Johnson’s 5 starts. Still small, but enough to permit a raised eyebrow at least.
I started with Netrtg’s. Johnson’s 12.3 is second on the team. That led to taking a peek at the ORtng, 103.4, 6th on the team. Then DRtg, 91.1, tops for OKC. That high trend extends across the Thunder’s nba.com advanced player stat board with only the PACE and PIE numbers showing any weakness.
Sticking with those advanced stats from the NBA, I found an interesting comparison for Dakari against another Thunder bench big, Patrick Patterson:
Finally, I come to Dakari’s best asset for this team, his salary. At just $815K, Johnson, when you factor in the luxury tax the Thunder stands to pay this season, is the best deal in town.
Think about this the next time you covet the Thunder going after a back up big before the trade. Dakari has already proven he can step in for Adams and help the Thunder win games. He is doing it at a very efficient level and compared with this.....
Johnson’s cost, including tax, of $2.85M vs Kyle Singler’s $16.33M is like finding a Rembrandt at a garage sale.
Vote Now Vote Often
Voting for the February 18th, 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles kicks off today at NBA.com/vote (click on the link if you wish to get your votes in early). Voting also starts today on the NBA App and will continue through January 15th. Five “2-for-1 Days” in which each vote counts twice will also be exclusive to these two locations and scheduled from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on December 31st and January 4th, 11th, 12th, and 15th, again, the last day of voting.
Other venues such as Facebook and Twitter will begin taking votes on December 25th and TNT will announce the starters, including captains, at 6 p.m. ET on their TNT NBA Tip-Off airing January 18th. TNT will also announce the reserves on NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET on January 23rd.
Last season, despite an amazing season that led to winning the NBA’s MVP award, Russell Westbrook did not receive enough votes to earn a starting spot. It will be interesting to see if voters ignore Westbrook’s slow start to the 2017/18 campaign and give him the starting nod this year.
Is Steven Adams playing at a level that deserves All-Star consideration?
This poll is closed