On Tuesday afternoon, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Lindy Waters III has agreed a two-year deal with the Thunder and will now finally be added to the main roster. Eugene Omoruyi was waived to create a roster spot so that Waters III could be signed.
It is a welcome reward for the Oklahoma native. Waters III went undrafted in 2020 and started his professional career with the Enid Outlaws in The Basketball League. His sharp-shooting got the attention of the OKC Blue and he earned his way into the G League. He used the Blue as a launching pad and started seeing minutes for the Thunder in the 2021-22 season.
During an injury-hit, miserable season, Waters III was one of the few bright spots particularly when it came to knocking down shots on the move. His shot is his strongest suit but there were doubts about whether Lindy could survive at the NBA level.
Waters III may be 6’6 and 215 lb but he is slow-footed which can be an issue on the defensive end of the floor. Five years ago, a pure shooter like him would have been an easy decision but teams have got a lot more savvy when it comes to attacking weak links. A sharpshooter now needs to have something else in their bag to justify meaningful minutes.
Lindy took on that challenge and has started to flesh out his skill-set. In his time with the Blue, we have seen Waters III become more confident in handling the ball and attacking poorly timed close-outs. His handle can still occasionally be loose but I think he has made real strides when it comes to being more dynamic as a playmaker.
It is harder to quantify but I also think that he is playing with more patience this season. When you watch the film, nothing looks rushed and he is making good decisions with the basketball. It has been really pleasing to see him shift the ball quickly to an open teammate and take advantage of a great shot opportunity.
His 3-point efficiency does not jump off a page, 37% in the NBA and 38% in the G League but you have to consider the volume and difficulty of shots. Lindy takes seven threes per game in the G League, with the majority of looks coming off screens or pick and pop jumpers. The usual standstill catch-and-shoot shots have not really been in his shot diet.
He has developed as a player and is now versatile enough to justify a spot on the main roster. Bringing Waters III back into the fold should allow Daigneault the opportunity to experiment with the Joe-Waters III pairing that he trialled earlier in the season.
The pairing posted a +12.0 point differential over 196 possessions as per Cleaning the Glass. Playing two efficient 3-point shooters at the same time supercharged the offense and opened up so much space inside for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to drive into.
Daigneault leaned into those lineups by running pindown actions and screen curls more often which often caused the opposing team problems. The defense could not simply key in on Shai, they had to also consider two knockdown shooters draining shots from deep.
Basketball-wise, I think the signing makes a ton of sense. From a more intangible level, there is real value in adding a player whose relationship with Oklahoma goes beyond the Thunder. Lindy grew up here, played college ball here and started his pro career in this state.
His ancestors, Kiowa and Cherokee, have been settled in Oklahoma for generations. More than any other player on the roster, he is linked indelibly to the reddish brown soil found in Oklahoma. There is a benefit beyond basketball in having a player who understands the local people.