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Oklahoma City Thunder Player Grades: Alex Abrines is the future

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The young player finally made his way stateside, and we hope he stays here.

Mark J. Rebilas @ USA TODAY Sports

Full Name: Alejandro "Álex" Abrines Redondo

Contract Status: Signed 3-yr/$17M deal on Saturday, July 23, 2016.

Player History:

  • Acquired: The Thunder selected Abrines with 32nd pick in the 2013 NBA Rookie Draft. After his selection, El Lobo Hombre spent the next three seasons honing his skills in Europe.
  • College: None
  • Age: 23
  • Years Pro: 1
  • NBA Debut: October 26, 2016
  • Position: Shooting Guard

2016-2017 Player Statistics:

  • Games Played: 68
  • Minutes Per Game: 15.5
  • Points Per Game: 6.0
  • Rebounds Per Game: 1.3
  • Assists Per Game: 0.6
  • Blocks Per Game: 0.1
  • Field Goal %: 39.3%
  • Three Point %: 38.1%
  • Free Throw %: 89.8%
  • Player Efficiency Rating: (10.1)

Regular Season Grade: C+

Which isn’t bad considering that young Alex Abrines was a rookie and learning an entirely new style of play. Per NBA stats, as the season progressed, so did Abrines’ shooting percentages. From November until February, his shot improved from a pedestrian 33.9% to an acceptable 46.8%, but where the young Spaniard showed his true future value for a team that finished dead last in 3-point shooting percentage was from beyond the arc, steadily rising from a Roberson-like 25.9% in November to a scorching 50% in the playoff seeding month of April.

As with any rookie, Abrines has a lot to learn, but you have to admire his pluck:

2016/17 Shot Chart:

Off the curl, off the dribble, contested, from Tulsa, it doesn’t matter, by April Abrines owned the court from long distance:

Did I mention pluck. Pay particular attention to this next video at the 1:14 spot:

High IQ, sneaky athleticism, and a 3-point stroke so smooth that J.A. Sherman wants to date it (and believes his wife would understand) should give Thunder Nation something to look forward to in the very near future.

Playoff Grade: C-

Admittedly, this is a bit of a rookie curve grade here as Abrines struggled to find that sweet stroke against the Houston Rockets. Though, how much of that can be attributed to hitting the rookie wall or just nerves it’s hard to say. The good news is that he didn’t shy from the moment, another positive sign moving forward.

Future Expectations:

Here is a sobering fact that Thunder fans would be well served to start embracing now rather than later. Barring gutting the youngest team in the 2017 NBA playoffs, Presti is not going to be able to make a huge splash in the free agent market this summer. The cap is set at $101 million and as of July 1 the Thunder will have $110 million in contract commitments and have yet to sign Jerami Grant, Andre Roberson, and Taj Gibson.

As Daily Thunder’s Jon Hamm points out, even if the Thunder could dump every contract except Russell Westbrook’s $28.5 M, Steven Adams’ $22.4 M, and Victor Oladipo’s $21 M, the Thunder would still have $71.9 M in salary leaving only $29.1 M to sign another superstar (expected FA rate $30 M) and the other 11 roster positions.


The Thunder will be lucky to keep what they have thus the underlying beauty of David-Scott’s WTLC post from May 5th. As J.A. Sherman so eloquently put it in the comment section, Enes Kanter is the odd-man out:

yes, there are 30 teams

And only 4 of them really matter: Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, Cavs.

3 of those teams can go to a 5-out style offense and render Kanter completely useless.

I’m a Kanter fan, I like him a lot. But this Rockets series completely exposed him, and unless OKC retools their bench strategy, next year will end up the same way for him.

Posted by J.A. Sherman on May 6, 2017 | 10:23 PM up reply rec (2) flag

If we are talking about building a champion, Kanter has to go and his $17.9 M salary would be better served retaining the momentum the Thunder generated this season and keeping the viable pieces of the puzzle moving forward. Sorry Kanter fans, but if I were Sam Presti I would trade Kanter and Kyle Singer for one 1st round pick in the upcoming draft..... any 1st round pick, use that money re-sign Grant, Gibson, and Robes, then fill a huge need with the extra draft pick.

This Thunder team needs shooters in the worst way. They need a small forward and a back up PG with a higher ceiling. I like Semaj, and I have defended Semaj but this team needs more than someone that doesn’t turn the ball over running the second unit.

I have my eye on two players in the upcoming draft. Tyler Lydon, a small forward out of Syracuse:

and Jawun Evans, a point guard out of Oklahoma State:

Lydon has as sweet a shooting motion as you will find and fear plays no part in Jawun’s game and these are just the guys Presti could get without any draft night magic. Both can shoot and both have a higher upside than the player the Thunder have in their perspective positions. Let Presti do some of that voodoo he is so well known for and the possibilities on draft night get even better.

Couple these two with a better Abrines.... and have no fear.... he will improve next season, along with a more acclimated Doug McDermott, and the Thunder have the makings of a Phoenix capable of rising from the ashes of the NBA’s 3-point shooting cellar in upcoming seasons.