On February 24, Aleksej Pokusevski, Moses Brown and Ty Jerome started in and lost a game to the Greensboro Swarm.
On March 14, Aleksej Pokusevski, Moses Brown and Ty Jerome started in and won a game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Riddle me this. What’s the difference between losing to a G League cellar dweller and beating an NBA playoff play-in hopeful?
In the surest Fade4Cade charade of the Thunder season, Oklahoma City listed Al Horford, Lu Dort, Theo Maledon, and Darius Bazley out with either rest or injury on Sunday. That’s four of the OKC starting five. With George Hill already out and Hamidou Diallo traded, six of this team’s top seven players wouldn’t be playing on the second night, err afternoon, of a back to back. Sensing the percentages of a top five 2021 pick slipping away, surely starting a third stringer and three players just recalled from the junior varsity squad versus Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas, Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke and Kyle Anderson would up the odds of landing a Jalen, right?
Where there’s a Shai, there’s a way.
How about another strong sample of SGA’s shoulda been an All Star impact? Just 24 hours prior to grit and grinding the Grizzlies, the Thunder got knicked out by New York by 22 points. Horford, Dort and Maledon all dressed in that beat down. Shai was dressed in a Tupac tee telling the team to Keep Ya Head Up.
Picture Shai Rollin’ without the biggie small Serbian on Sunday. As clutch as SGA’s 30 points, including 9 in the final five minutes of the 4th quarter, were against Morant and Co, Poku was arguably even better. The 19 year old rookie scored a career high 23 points on 7-13 shooting including 5-8 from 3. He became the second youngest player in NBA history with five or more 3 pointers in a game behind only LeBron James. He leapfrogged the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden to become the youngest player in Thunder history to score 20 or more points in a game. He stands alone in NBA history books as the youngest player to ever to finish a game with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 made 3 pointers. Basically, Serb Ibaka is on pace to finish as the best and most versatile player in the history of basketball. Mo Poku, Mo Problems for Moem Phis.
When the season began, I drafted a journal declaring my affinity for pairing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with a top 5 pick in the upcoming draft. The lone clear caveat to collecting losses was winning as a result of Shai’s ascension and/or one or more of the other young core players showing signs of possible stardom. Never would I have imagined sitting at 17-22 with every win checking both boxes of excused victories.
The flaw in my thought process was assuming the Thunder needed elite blue chip talent next to Shai to compete. Turns out, the Thunder only need OKC Blue talent or dudes who sit around eating chips.
Ladies and gentlemen readers of Daily Thunder, you can start in and win an NBA game. Can’t shoot? Big deal. Can’t dribble? Merely details. Can’t jump over a Ponca City Yellow Pages? Who cares.
Your lone requirement for the road to success is simple: be a teammate of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s.
The Thunder travel to Chicago to play against Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Thaddeus Young, and double juniors Wendell Carter and Otto Porter tonight. The greatest coach in Thunder history… versus his mentor. Horford is out, Dort is questionable. But a sacrifice loss may turn into another accidental win because the DNP lister won’t include mister SGA.