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Oklahoma City Thunder player grade: Domantas Sabonis needs to show improvement

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Talented young power forward will need to show strides in his second season

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Full Name: Domantas Sabonis

Contract Status: Sabonis is currently under his rookie deal that he signed on August 12th, 2016. He is signed through the 2019-2020 season and is due to make $2.55 million next season.

Player History:

  • Acquired: The Magic drafted Sabonis out of Gonzaga with the 11th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Orlando then traded Sabonis, Ersan Illyasova and Victor Oladipo to the Thunder in exchange for Serge Ibaka in June 2016.
  • College: Gonzaga
  • Age: 21
  • Years Pro: 1
  • NBA Debut: October 26, 2016
  • Position: Power Forward

2016-2017 Player Statistics:

  • Games Played: 81
  • Minutes Per Game: 20.1
  • Points Per Game: 5.9
  • Rebounds Per Game: 3.5
  • Assists Per Game: 1.0
  • Blocks Per Game: 0.4
  • Field Goal %: 39.9 percent
  • Three Point %: 32.1 percent
  • Free Throw %: 65.7 percent
  • Player Efficiency Rating: (6.9)

Regular Season Grade: C-

The Thunder could have gotten more out of Sabonis this season. He struggled to shoot 40% from the field and from below 70% from the line. His PER of 6.9 was well below the NBA average of 15 as well. He showed a little potential to shoot the long ball, hitting 1.1 three pointers per game. The downside is that he only shot 32.1% from downtown.

On the defensive end, Sabonis struggled as well. He averaged only 0.4 blocks and 0.5 steals per game. The Thunder already have enough big men that are a liability on the defensive end and they don’t need another one with Sabonis. He will need to show more of a defensive presence if he wants to see an uptake in minutes in his sophomore campaign.

Sabonis needs to improve in basically every aspect of his game to be able to make a difference for the Thunder in his sophomore campaign. Sabonis gets a C- only because he was able to eat up some minutes in his rookie season.

Playoff Grade: D-

Sabonis did not help the Thunder at all in their first round series against the Rockets. He played in only two games, averaging only three minutes per game. There is not much to talk about here, considering he didn’t play almost at all in the series.

Future Expectations:

Sabonis has the potential to be a contributor in this league. His ability in college to score and rebound was a big reason he was drafted 11th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. In his senior campaign at Gonzaga, Sabonis averaged 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. I expect Sabonis to improve his game going into his sophomore season.

Sabonis showed he has the ability to make an impact but still has a lot of room for improvement

At only 21-years-old, Sabonis has a lot of time to make improvements to his game in order to impact the Thunder next season. He has shown bright spots throughout his first season but he will need an uptake in minutes to improve his game as well. The Thunder could have a future gem sitting on the end of their bench.