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This rebuilding yet oddly overachieving season has been a merry-go-round of hullabaloo for the Thunder roster. Almost every player has taken his turn on the ride as the object of OKC fans’ affections. And as the carousel goes round and round, the sound of more praise for (mostly) each guy abounds.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the face of the franchise, a future All Star and oozes something the Gen Z kids on Instagram call “drip.”
Lu Dort has fans clamoring for an NBA All Defense selection and blows up Twitter and Reddit every time he hits a couple 3s and scores double digit points (i.e. every game he plays, now).
Darius Bazley rode his Bubble boost to an inclusion in the “Thunder young core” returning trio alongside SGA and Dort, so his fanfare has remained emphatic even while his season has been erratic.
Poku is a 7 foot 19 year old Serbian unicorn who runs like a baby giraffe, wears glasses and a fanny pack and always fills the fun factor, whether with majestic passes or hysterical dances.
Al Horford’s big name and resuscitated game garnered an adorable All Star campaign, Kenrich Williams quickly became beloved for his hustle and his hair, Mike Muscala’s 3-point heroics off the bench got him benched, Theo Maledon rocks the rookie hype bump, Isaiah Roby is the Molly Ringwald of the Thunder Breakfast Club, Moses Brown’s out-of-nowhere rebounding and double doubles led to premature Lu Dort buzz and a Dort contract, Tony Bradley bagged the George Hill trade bump, Svi earned that Hami trade shine, Gabriel Deck is currently collecting the shiny new toy treatment, and good grief even Charlie Brown, Jr. became a talking point because of his punchline peanutty name.
That leaves the hype-less hoopsters list as Josh Hall, Jaylen Hoard and Ty Jerome. One of these bupkis ballyhooed ballers is not like the others. Hall and Hoard are the Thunder’s two two-way players.
The Ty Jerome disrespect ends here.
It started the moment OKC traded for him. When the Thunder sent the Suns a guaranteed playoff appearance in the form of Chris Paul, the headliner names Phoenix sent back were Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Ricky Rubio. The asset that got the Thunder faithful, and the Thunder GM, excited was the 2022 protected first round pick. It’s hilarious in hindsight, but even Jalen Lecque was more talked up than Ty for the mere fact that his nickname was Baby Westbrook. The soon-to-be sophomore Jerome was an afterthought. Sadly, despite his excellent play, that continues to be the case.
Someone’s gotta start singing Jerome’s praises. So allow me to bust out a little Ty tune.
Jerome is averaging 10.4 points a game off the bench, good for #5 on the Thunder roster and #16 in the 2019 rookie class. He’s sandwiched between Brandon Clarke and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, two far more touted talents than Ty.
He’s easily been the best 3-point shooter of the 2019 draft. Jerome is hitting 41.8% of his 5.1 attempts per game. That’s the highest sophomore percentage for any attempting over one 3 per game. He is tied for first in made 3s per game, but the other two guys are converting less than 35% of their treys. As a reminder, this draft class boasts lauded sharpshooters Darius Garland, Cameron Johnson, PJ Washington, Coby White, and Tyler Herro.
Oh yes, the other Ty. The one who became so propped up by a Bubble performance that his universally acclaimed genius of a team president refused to trade him for James Harden. You’d think, given that one is a social media darling and the other is a social media ugly duckling, that there’s no comparison between Herro and Jerome. Beyond, of course, their first names. And their draft class. And that they’re both shooting guards. And both are 6’5”. Okay, fun coincidences, but surely Herro’s numbers blow Jerome’s out of the South Beach water. Not exactly. Tyler is averaging 14.9/4.9/3.4 in 30.7 minutes per game. Ty is averaging 10.4/2.8/3.6 in 24.1 minutes per game. Their raw numbers are cuckoo close per 36. Tyler’s PER is 12.7, Ty’s PER is 12.8. The true Tyler vs. Ty takeaway is true shooting percentage: Herro’s 52.9% pales next to Jerome’s 58.1%.
Let’s move from Heat’s Herro to Blazers’ number zero. Thunder fans have recently discovered Ty Jerome has something in common with Damian Lillard. Both dudes have unlimited range and can launch and hit from 30 feet with ease. When Dame does it, it’s called Logo Lillard. When Jerome does it, he’s shooting from Tyland. After his role in the infamous Celtics upset, be on the lookout for Ty’s Boston colored Keds kicks to drop.
The perplexing part of the lack of Ty props is his pedigree. Jerome was the point guard and leader of the 2019 NCAA title winning team at Virginia. He was then taken in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft at #24 overall, just one spot behind teammate Darius Bazley. Yet despite Bazley buying coffees at New Balance while Jerome was cutting down nets and hoisting trophies, and despite Ty outperforming Darius on the season, Baze is considered an untouchable member of the young core while Jerome isn’t considered at all.
Now, if you’ve read all the way to this point and think my lamenting the lack of love for Jerome is overblown, do me a favor and Google “Thunder roster” on your Chrome. See all the names and pictures pop up? Okay, you’re gonna have to scroll to the right. No, farther to the right. Keep going. All the way to the very end. Past Darius Miller, who is no longer on the team. Past two-way twosome Josh Hall and Jaylen Hoard. Past 10 day contract player and Charles Schulz’s favorite tank commander Charlie Brown Jr. Oh give me a break, there’s Justin Robinson, who hits the double BINGO of 10-day contract and no longer being on the team. Still don’t see Jerome? That’s because Google, the biggest and best search engine in the world, doesn’t have a picture listed of him. But there he is, finally. Last place and faceless.
Not anymore. At long last, it’s Ty’s turn to hop on the Thunder merry-go-round of applause and cheer. And while for many the ride may be short lived, something tells me Jerome won’t be stepping off anytime soon.
(It’s his shooting. His shooting is what tells me.)