The Thunder wrap up their shortened preseason tonight against the Bulls in a rematch from Wednesday’s game. The Thunder will open their season against the Rockets on Dec. 23. Tonight’s game should be mostly played by bottom of the roster guys as the regulars will play sparingly. Here are a few thoughts heading into tonight’s game.
How much will the starters play? Last game, the big four of Shai Gilegous-Alexander, Al Horford, Darius Bazley and Lu Dort played around 20 minutes. It will be interesting to see how Coach Daigneault will use his starters this final preseason game. If I had to guess, I think three of the four barely play with the exception of Dort, who could use some minutes to gain some rhythm since he has missed most of training camp and was pretty rough in Wednesday’s contest.
I also expect George Hill to not play much either, if at all. Hill is an established veteran so he does not need the unnecessary minutes. The Thunder would be wise to sit him once again and not run the risk of injuring himself in a meaningless game.
What happens to T.J. Leaf? A notable absence from Wednesday’s game was Leaf. The former first round pick was traded to Oklahoma City as a way to get a fresh start, but it’s a bit odd that he did not play at all last game.
The assumption with Leaf was that he was going to fight it out for one of those last roster spots but his DNP from last game could mean that either his roster spot is already secured or that the Thunder wanted to see what their other young bigs like Isaiah Roby and Moses Brown had to show in extended playing time.
Leaf played 17 minutes in the Spurs game, so to go from 17 to zero is a weird pattern.
Who gets cut? The Thunder will need to release three players in order to finalize their regular season roster. Tonight’s game will be the last chance for the bottom of the roster guys to influence the team’s decision.
These preseason games are usually disinteresting for the fanbase, but for players who are trying to make the roster, it is their make it or break it opportunity.
Is Vit Krejci on his way to OKC? The Thunder second-round pick posted on his Instagram story that he is on his way to “start his NBA journey.” This is a bit surprising as many assumed that Krejci was a draft and stash pick who would spend the next couple of years overseas recovering form his torn ACL.
But it sounds like that he is ready to make the jump to the NBA now. Maybe the Thunder want Krejci to recover with their medical team instead of overseas. If he does come to Oklahoma City, I expect him to rehab under the Thunder’s watch and play for the Blue whenever he is ready to return.
The game tips off at 7 p.m. CT in Chesapeake Energy Arena.