In the first game back at The Peake, the Thunder suffered an uneventful blowout loss to Billy Donovan’s Bulls.
The results of the games are just footnotes as preseason is a time period to get rotation players some run time and to see what they are capable of. Preseason is also the time to establish which players at the bottom of the roster make the final cut.
In terms of guys who will play significant minutes once the regular season kicks off, three of the four played great. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Al Horford all only played around 15 to 19 minutes tonight.
Shai looked great tonight. He was very good at finding a perfect balance of scoring and distributing in the P&R as he finished with 12 points and three assists. Shai also did a good job at staying aggressive on his drives. Gilgeous-Alexander was able to find his way to the line consistently, as he went 4-6 from the charity stripe.
Bazley played well tonight as well, he scored seven points and did a good job defensively in both the perimeter and in the post. Darius did not do too much in the box score but his positive body language was noticeable.
In his first game with the Thunder, Horford was as good as advertised. Al put up 15 points and seven rebounds, he also did a great job at doing the little things like setting screens and rolling to the basket properly. When he was on the floor, there were several plays where the offense ran through Horford and his passing abilities warrant that type of role on this team.
Dort struggled to shoot the ball as he went 0-7 including 0-4 from three. But his defense looked the same as it did this past August. Dort was tenacious as he fought over screens and stuck in front of his assignment.
Outside of the big four, Maledon was the most impressive player once again. After an impressive debut, Theo Maledon had a good follow up game as he finished with 11 points and two assists. Maledon seems like he can score well on all three levels of the game so far.
The other backup guard, Frank Jackson, was also good tonight. Jackson finished with 15 points and knocked down a few threes. Jackson provided efficient scoring for the Thunder and provided important floor spacing.
The fifth starter Justin Jackson shot the ball poorly tonight as he scored eight points on 3-11 shooting. Jackson was a bit foul happy as he finished with three fouls in just 24 minutes.
Aleksej Pokusevski looks like an 18-year-old kid playing against the best basketball players in the world. He got pushed around quite easily and seemed to rush his shots. He had a lot of bad misses as he went 1-8 from the field and 1-5 from three. Poku’s lack of physicality is not unexpected; the Thunder knew he would be skinny when they drafted him.
A good takeaway from this game for Poku is that on some possessions when he grabbed the board, he was able to dribble the ball mid-court naturally for such a long player. Poku looked capable of handing the ball in the brief moments when he controlled the rock.
Moses Brown had some nice garbage time production in the fourth quarter as he finished with 12 points.
As a team, the Thunder had trouble taking care of the ball as the team turned it over 16 times compared to just 22 assists. Oklahoma City struggled greatly on offense but that is expected when the game is mostly played by guys who will not see the floor much during the regular season.
The Thunder play the Bulls one more time to wrap up the preseason this Friday in Oklahoma City.