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2017-18 Oklahoma City Thunder player grades: Alex Abrines

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Everyone’s favorite Spaniard continued his sweet shooting ways on offense, and peaked at just the right time on defense.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Full Name: Alejandro Abrines

Nickname: Alex, Teen Wolf, (Sherman’s Secret)

Years in NBA: 2 Years

Contract Status: 1 year, $5,455,236 remaining. Restricted Free Agent in 2019

Notable Factoid:

Abrines won a bronze medal with the Spanish National team at the 2016 Olympics, although he only played 6 minutes throughout the tournament, trapped at the back-end of a very experienced Spanish roster.

Player History:

Abrines, drafted by the Thunder with the 32nd pick in 2013, spent 3 intervening years playing for FC Barcelona (the basketball team, not the soccer team) before joining the team until 2016. After signing a 3-year, $17M deal on July 23, 2016, Abrines has played off the bench in both of his seasons in Oklahoma City and shot 38% from 3 point land in both years. A silky smooth stroke (that J.A. Sherman secretly wants to date, or at least flirt with over an Old Fashioned and some Paul Anka) and a total lack of fear make him one of the better shooters on the team and a good floor spacing option.

Pre-season Expectations:

Abrines produced a solid if unspectacular rookie season in the NBA. The hope has always been for him to develop into the 3 and D wing the Thunder have always lacked. The 3 was there from the get-go, but the D was not. The hope was to see Abrines develop his defense more in year 2 while continuing to stroke it from deep, with the understanding that the arrivals of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony would mean fewer shot attempts.

Most Memorable Game/Moment:

Starting in place of Paul George, Abrines put up a career-high 20 points against Memphis in December, helping OKC eke out a 1 point win. In the end, every single win counted for OKC in the crowded West playoff picture, and on this particular night, OKC would not have posted the “W” without Abrines on the court

Regular Season Grade: B-

Abrines did what was asked of him and not much else. He hit 3’s at the same percentage as last season, albeit on a slightly lower volume of attempts. Occasionally, he flashed other skills like attacking closeouts and getting to the rim, but without much consistency (that’s partly an issue of opportunity; per NBA.com, Abrines got only 15 touches per game in the regular season). Abrines should have gotten more opportunities to stretch his wings, especially during his time playing with the bench. (But I digress, this isn’t the Billy Donovan grade article). Abrines’ infamous early season defensive issues may explain why the Thunder weren’t willing to hand him the starting job when Andre Roberson got hurt, but he did improve as the season went on after experiencing a horrid middle of the season where odds were he might get moved at the trade deadline. That said, even on his best nights, he seemed to top out at just average on that end of the court. (which, in retrospect, is a huge improvement over the perimeter turnstile he was a year ago)

Utah Jazz  v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Five Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Postseason Grade: B+

Unlike most of the Thunder roster, Abrines showed up in the playoffs. He got less opportunity on the offensive end which begs the question - would it have been so hard to run a couple of pin down screens for him when Paul George was sitting, or tossing up bricks, instead of running post-ups for Carmelo Anthony? (But I digress, again, apologies)

For his part, Abrines made the most of his limited opportunities by converting 6 of his 13 three-point attempts. Abrines converted only 2 of 7 from inside the arc, which isn’t good, but showed he was playing within himself and not forcing up bad shots.

Surprisingly, Abrines’ real contribution came on the defensive end. For the series, the Thunder posted a respectable defensive rating of 99.4 when Abrines played compared to a blah 106.1 when he sat. Part of that resulted from playing time with Jerami Grant, the only player on the team who posted a better defensive rating for the series (97.7). However, throughout his time on the floor, Abrines made meaningful contributions by sticking to his mark on switches. Maligned for his defense for much of the season, Abrines credibly defended Donovan Mitchell (Utah’s most dangerous scoring threat throughout the first round) on multiple possessions, including blocking him once. No one would mistake him for Andre Roberson, but Abrines proved he play his part in a solid defensive unit when it matters the most. Overall, Alex’s defensive effort in the series, which helped OKC win game 5, is a hopeful sign for his future.

Future Expectations:

In his exit interview, Abrines spoke about improving his pick and roll skills. I’m all for it; when the kid gets to the rim, he’s more explosive than you’d think:

(It’s a shame this play ended Jordan Bell’s promising young career)

Improving his finishing and passing will serve Abrines well in attacking closeouts as well, which will be key to his offensive development. He could get a little better at his 3 (ideally, into the 40% range), but he’s already a good enough shooter that defenses have to respect his range; adding variety to his game is the next logical step. Defensively, he needs to keep improving his footwork and instincts so that level he flashed in the playoffs becomes the norm.

If Paul George departs in free agency, there’s a real chance Abrines slides into the starting lineup. Even if PG stays, Abrines should have earned more minutes with his play this season. His performance in this year’s playoffs should give OKC fans hope that he’s up to the challenge

Player Grades Explained:

B: Met Expectations, Flashed Greater Potential

Abrines was mostly the same player offensively as his first season, while his occasional dunks and attacks on closeouts showed that he may have more to contribute. His improved defense made the coaching staff more willing to trust him, and he rewarded that trust with a great playoff performance on D. Now that he’s showed us what he can do, expectations will be all the higher next season.

Poll

Do you think Abrines’ jump shot is more like:

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Teen romance in a John Hughes movie
    (7 votes)
  • 17%
    Lifelong dedicated love in The Notebook
    (8 votes)
  • 29%
    Wesley and Buttercup in The Princess Bride
    (14 votes)
  • 38%
    Jack Dawson drawing Rose like one of his French girls
    (18 votes)
47 votes total Vote Now