One of the things that has made the Thunder’s success this season so impressive is the lack of a household name. Yes, they have future hall of famer in Chris Paul running point guard, but Paul is no longer in his prime and less likely to show up in headlines.
The unsung heroes of the Thunder’s roster reside with their wing players. While Oklahoma City has a long list of wing players, not all of them play or contribute.
Here we will evaluate the versatile wing players on the Thunder’s roster. The wing players that’ll be graded are: Abdel Nader, Terrance Ferguson, Darius Bazley, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort and Hamidou Diallo.
Abdel Nader, Terrance Ferguson and Luguentz Dort
Beginning with Abdel Nader, he deserves an “B” grade for his performance thus far this season. Nader has responded to averaging more minutes this season, with an increase in points per game, field goal percentage and three point percentage.
Nader has proven he is someone coach Billy Donovan can substitute in to help spread the floor for the Thunder. He can even provide a scoring outburst as he did on Nov. 27 with a career high 23 points.
As far as Terrance Ferguson is concerned, he gets an “C-” grade for the year through 51 games. The reason being he was not yet shown any growth. There is no area of his game that looks like an improvement over a year ago.
Having started every game he’s played in this season, Ferguson’s points per game and three point percentage have fell this season.
However, Ferguson grade isn’t lower because he’s been out recently due to personal matters. Also, Ferguson ranks second on the Thunder in defensive rating behind Danilo Gallinari.
The emergence of Luguentz Dort during Ferguson’s recent absence has been a great surprise for the Thunder. Dort has started in the last eight games for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City are 8-1 in their last nine games, of course not all because of Dort, but the rookie has contributed to this recent hot streak.
See on Jan. 29 when Dort scored a career high 23 and was Oklahoma City’s second leading scorer that night behind Dennis Schroder.
Of the wing players being graded Dort has played the least amount of games, but has played well enough to create a debate whether or not he should remain a starter over Ferguson. This is why he deserves an “B+” for his play this season.
Darius Bazley and Danilo Gallinari
Coming in as a rookie, Darius Bazley has done all that has been asked of him, earning him a “B” for his play this season.
In his limited playing time Bazley is productive and uses his athleticism to create highlight plays that spark the team. Per 36 minutes Bazley would be averaging nine points per game, to go along with eight rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, Gallinari receives an “A” for his outstanding play thus far this season. Gallinari is tied for first on the Thunder in points per game with 19 points per game. He is also leading Oklahoma City in free throw percentage at 90% and three point percentage at 41%.
In his first year with the Thunder, Gallinari has played so well he’s wanted by other teams as the trade deadline quickly approaches.
Miami, Memphis and Oklahoma City are working on an elaborate three-team deal that would land the Heat both Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, league sources tell ESPN. Talks are ongoing and could extend into Thursday, sources said.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 6, 2020
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo
Similar to Nader and Bazley, Hamidou Diallo has produced when called upon this season. Now averaging 19 minutes a game instead of the ten minutes he averaged last year, Diallo’s numbers have increased.
Diallo has doubled his averages in both points per game and rebounds per game this season. Per 100 possessions, Diallo would be averaging 16 point per game and nine rebounds per game.
Yet, Diallo receives an “B-” instead an “B” like Nader and Bazley because of his lack of development in three point shooting. In today’s NBA its all about being able to spread the floor, something Diallo can’t do, shooting 17% from three.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s play this season has Thunder fans thinking they won the Paul George trade this summer. Not only does Gilgeous-Alexander look like a future star, but the Thunder are in playoff contention and still have a stockpile of future draft picks.
Without a doubt, Gilgeous-Alexander has an “A” grade for this season. He’s averaging five more points and three more rebounds this season compared to last. In addition, he’s shown the ability to play both on and off the ball.
The success of Gilgeous-Alexander has allowed the Thunder to have lineup spearheaded by their three guards in Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander and Schroder which is very difficult to stop.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s play thus far this season has solidified himself as key player in the future of the Oklahoma City.
Who do you think has played the best thus far this season?
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