Ball distribution has been a point of emphasis for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. Gone are the days where the team is top heavy with talent with no real depth after the starting five.
And it looks like that message has leaked down to their G-League team.
Well, at least for one night that was the case against the Iowa Wolves.
The Blue featured balanced scoring, as they had seven players in double-digits in a 122-107 home win. Devon Hall and Markel Brown were the two players that really stood out this game. Hall scored 20 points on 8-14 shooting, mostly on drives that resulted in nice finishes around the rim. Outside of the paint, Hall struggled with his jump shot, but that is just a one night thing, as he is shooting 36.5% from three this season on a decent clip of 6.4 attempts a game.
Meanwhile, Brown showed can really shoot the ball, and you can just see how much confidence he has in himself with his body language all game long. Brown finished with 18 points while going 5-8 from three, with four of those threes coming in the fourth quarter to help close out this game.
This was a good team win with everybody playing a key part. Every Blue player who hit the floor took at least five shots, and no more than 16. The Blue collectively shot 16-40 (40%) from three, driving the win.
The Blue have been one of the better three point shooting teams in the league this season and this game really showed it, even amidst the challenges of some players not knowing what the nightly rotation will be.
“You know ... roster changes a lot in the G-League so sometimes you have more guys, sometimes you have less, sometimes you have assignment guys.” OKC Blue Head Coach Grant Gibbs said post game. “Everybody kind of understanding the situation, you might get less shots but there’s enough out there to balance out the game and get your game off.”
An unexpected surprise was seeing Deonte Burton during pre-game shoot arounds, as he was named a starter for this game. Burton played 18 minutes in the Bucks game the previous night, but has been at the end of the Thunder rotation all season long. This game provided him with an opportunity to get warm and play a meaningful 28 minutes. Burton finished with seven points on some flashy dunks.
Going back and forth between the NBA and G-League can impact a player’s confidence hugely — both positive and negative — depending on how they take the news. Coach Gibbs agrees the constant movement between teams can be challenging for a player:
“(Burton) played with us quite a bit last year when he was on a two-way, obviously it’s a different team but a lot of the things are the same. I think all the times he’s been on assignment with us he’s done a pretty good job of just ingraining himself.
“It’s never seamless because it’s challenging for those guys they’re playing on two different teams. So you know there’s gonna be some things in the game that are maybe a little sloppy or doesn’t quite know or figured out with our group. But I felt like he played really hard and ingrained himself and got his athleticism into the game,” Gibbs said.