Thunder Journal: Theo Time
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The name Theo is of Greek origin and means God’s gift.
Now I’m not saying that the Thunder landed a divine donation in the second round of the draft, but anyone watching OKC play Brooklyn on Friday night would admit Theo Maledon’s shooting was heavenly.
The 19 year old French point guard started his third game in place of George Hill and shot a stellar six for six from 3, a Nike’s vamp away from being a celestial seven for seven. The six made treys without a miss tied the all-time NBA rookie record. Maledon scored 24 points on nine shots.
Maledon’s magnificent night may have shocked some Thunder fans, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was hardly nonplussed when Theo’s non-missing was discussed. “I’m around him all the time. He’s capable of this kind of play day to day.”
Tony Parker’s protégé caught every diehard Thunder fan who actually pays attention to preseason’s attention when he exploded for 20 points in his exhibition debut. It took all of 29 minutes of playing time for the Theo Twitter hype to take off. Maledorian memes made the rounds before the final buzzer sound. Maledon has shown flashes throughout the first 18 games, but his Brooklyn blow up was the first time since his preseason premiere that he reached 20 points.
But the Theo talk has started up again since he’s up to the starting gig. He’s scored in double digits in back to back games. In the trio of games being a member of the first five, Maledon is 11 of 17 from long distance and has averaged 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3 assists.
I know what you’re thinking.
“Small sample size.”
“The guy was a second rounder for a reason.”
“I once saw a rookie Terrance Ferguson hit six 3s in a game. Fool me once…”
While it’s true the sample size of success is minute, hold up a minute before belittling Maledon’s numbers. Even his season long statistics show promise, swear to God’s gift.
Among all 2020 rookies, Theo is #15 in points per game, #5 in assists, #19 in rebounds, #13 in steals and #4 in three pointers made. Not bad for a kid taken #34 overall.
Oh yeah, the draft argument. Even in this day and age of Luguentz Dort, House Undrafted, it’s difficult to get past pedigree. Truth is, at one point last year Maledon was considered a certain lottery pick. Some experts even mocked Theo to the top 10. International observers openly debated Killian Hayes, who was taken at #7 overall by the Detroit Pistons, versus Maledon as the best French point guard prospect for months. By the time of the draft, Theo’s stock had fallen enough that most mocks projected him to be picked between #20-25.
So how did he go from the lottery to the second round? His mentor suspects sabotage (let’s be honest: Tony Parker is no stranger to crying foul).
Parker says that Maledon’s coach in France, Zvezdan Mitrovic, benched Theo when NBA scouts came to watch him play. The former San Antonio Spur says the coach cost Theo a place in the first round and that he should have been taken in the top 10. The four-time champion even went so far as to say that the ASVEL coach “killed” Maledon. Regardless of whether or not the conspiracy theo-ry is true, it’s obvious OKC received ridiculous value at #34.
The TFerg comparison is a fascinating one, actually. Both were 19 year old rookies who had played overseas and tallied a career high 24 points on the strength of six made 3s. But dig deeper and differences abound. First off, Ferguson’s night from 3 wasn’t perfect, it was nice. He went 6-9. Terrance was considered a raw player who needed to sharpen his offensive skills, especially his ability to put the ball on the floor, drive and make players for others. Maledon is considered one of the most mature, poised, polished and NBA-ready rookies in his class. The similarities in Terrance and Theo start and end with their 24 point nights.
So where does Maledon go from here? Will he stick around as a member of the young core? Will he be the next in the long line of beloved backup Thunder point guards joining OKC royalty such as Dennis 6MÖY Schroder, Raymond Thicc Daddy Felton, Cameron Dance Dance Revolution Payne, Eric Benched Russ Once Maynor, Reggie Boo This Man Jackson and Semaj Triple Double Record Christon? Could he play himself into a permanent starting position if George Hill is traded?
“Theo’s a point guard 100%, but his shooting allows him to play off the ball and it helps the versatility of the team. The threes were a byproduct of starting off ball with Shai,” Mark Daigneault says. “He’s wise beyond his years. We want to make sure to discover where his ceiling is as a player.”
We don’t know yet what Theo Maledon’s ceiling is, but hopefully he reaches it as a member of the Thunder and doesn’t bolt to another team like the former OKC star turned Net sitting on the bench Friday night. Because there is one potential red flag in Maledon’s scouting report that may put Thunder fans on edge and fearful of his future with the franchise.
Theo’s middle name is Louis, of Frankish descent, and means…
- Up next: a Rockets double header. If OKC gets a win and a win, it’s a win-win. If OKC gets a loss and a loss, it’s a win-win. If OKC gets a win and a loss, it’s a win-win. If OKC gets a loss and a win, it’s a win-win.