Start time: 7 p.m. CT
Broadcasters: Bally Sports Oklahoma and NBA League Pass
The Thunder face the Charlotte Hornets for the second time this season. In the belated season opener for OKC, the first matchup was a classic, with the Thunder blowing a double-digit lead in the last two minutes before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drilled a game-winner with one second left.
That game feels like it happened to a different team at this point.
The Thunder in that game was a youngish team with some savvy veterans mixed in to create a tough upstart squad with some edge.
The Thunder roster that will take the court Wednesday is a performance art project. It’s an attempt to see how many times you can send out what is functionally a G-League roster against NBA competition before the league office gets annoyed (answer: for as long as you want, if you don’t have any national TV games!)
To wit, let’s check in on the 10 players who logged minutes in that first contest against the Hornets and see where they are now:
Shai-Gilgeous Alexander: Out until at least Mid-April with a foot injury
George Hill: Traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Tony Bradley and draft picks
Lu Dort: Out with a Concussion
Darius Bazley: Hasn’t played in a month due to a shoulder injury
Al Horford: The Thunder straight up announced they wouldn’t play Horford anymore, even though he is uninjured, because they want to give minutes to younger players (read that as they want to increase their odds of getting a top draft pick)
Aleksej Pokusevski: Tank Commander Poku is Healthy and Ready to go!
Kenrich Williams: Williams is healthy and quietly establishing himself as a solid role player this season.
Mike Muscala: Muscala has not played since the all-star break, although the Thunder didn’t feel the need to make a statement about that as they did with Horford.
Theo Maledon: Healthy and ready to roll, the Thunder’s new starting Point Guard has taken 14 shots per game over OKC’s last three games (all blowout losses) and should frankly take even more if he wants to.
Hamidou Diallo: Traded to the Detroit Pistons.
A lot can change in three months!
The Hornets are without their two best players (LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward), but they’re still trying to make the playoffs and have experienced veterans playing most of the minutes.
Prediction: Another blowout loss for the Thunder, but slightly closer than the last three games. I begin refreshing tankathon with six minutes left in the 3rd quarter.