While a depleted Team USA underwhelmed at the FIBA World Cup, Oklahoma City Thunder fans had a different reason to tune into some of the action over the past fortnight with Dennis Schroder (Germany) and Danilo Gallinari (Italy) representing their country and the Thunder on the word stage. While many players took the opportunity to rest or to bond with their new teams and teammates, the two key Thunder players spent the time honing their skills against some of the best talent in the world.
For Gallinari it was an interrupted start to the tournament as he underwent surgery to remove his appendix. It didn’t seem to limit him too much however, as he was clearly the best player on the Italian roster during the course of the tournament. Italy went 3-2 over their handful of games, reaching second round play, and Gallo led the way averaging 17.2 PPG (shooting 53% from the field and 50% from behind the arc on nearly five attempts per game), 5.6 RPG and 2.5 APG. The shooting numbers will be of particular interest to Thunder fans, as OKC have long been desperate from some consistent long-range marksmanship which Gallinari appears to be comfortable supplying.
Dennis Schroder also led from the front for Germany as they also made it to the second round and finished with a 3-2 win/loss record. Schroder was instrumental as he basically averaged 20 PPG and 10 APG – throwing in 4.6 RPG for good measure. He wasn’t as efficient overall as Gallinari was, but he still managed to shoot a more than respectable .476 from downtown on four attempts per game. His aggressiveness also saw him get to the line a lot, something that Thunder fans will be hoping to see in 2019-20 as they continue to try and move the ball quickly up the floor.
For Thunder fans, both players seemed to have exceptional campaigns from an individual point of view, but it’s more than just the raw numbers. Both guys saw competitive minutes against high quality opponents and were able to keep themselves in really good form as they head into training camp and preseason and importantly, they both completed the FIBA World Cup without injury concerns. Both are earmarked to play key roles with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season and will often share the floor together – Schroder is key in providing a spark and scoring off the bench, while Gallinari will likely start in the frontcourt for OKC on opening night.
Interesting side note, the Thunder will play two games against Schroders German teammate Max Kleber (Dallas Mavericks) before the season officially commences for OKC on October 23rd.