We made it through 50 games without any major shake ups on the Thunder roster, which might be even more surprising than the team’s 30-20 record on the eve of the trade deadline.
We’ve been grading the performances of players before the trade deadline and All-Star festivities mark the virtual halfway point of the season. As the Thunder have surprised and morphed our expectations, so have many of OKC’s players. The grades below reflect how well we think each player has carried out their role to this point.
Chris Paul: A
Terrance Ferguson: D+
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A-
Danilo Gallinari: A+
Steven Adams: B+
Dennis Schröder: Ä+
Nerlens Noel: A-
Darius Bazley: B
Lu Dort: A
Hamidou Diallo: C
Mike Muscala: C+
Abdel Nader: C
Deonte Burton: F
|End of Bench
Justin Patton (traded): B+
Andre Roberson: INC
Kevin Hervey: INC
Isaiah Roby: INC
This may feel high for a player with a sub-50 TS% and -5.0 OBPM, but Bazley’s hints of playmaking and defensive prowess are advanced for a 19-year old enigma at the bottom of the draft. I’m more encouraged by Bazley’s routine failures on drives, attempted threes, difficult kickouts, and not-quite finishes than I would be if his numbers were a little stronger as the fruit of a more typical stand-still approach for a rookie.
This is more a testament to Dort’s rapid outgrowth of the G League than a prediction of his quality as an NBA rotation player (although the signs there have been promising in a small sample). Rebounding from going undrafted to almost certainly earning an NBA contract is success even if he comes down to earth the rest of the season.
Diallo has doubled his raw production from last season to this, but that’s due to a flat uptick in minutes. He still can’t shoot (17.3 3P% for his career) and his impressive energy plays (dunks, rebounds, saves) mask his routinely disasterous tendencies when he touches the ball. If he can truly put his elbow injury behind him and play with more control, this grade should improve.
Much was been made of the Muscala whoopsie: signed to a playoff team as a key shooting big, but opting to stick around for a weaker team when given the ability to leave. Well, the Thunder are a playoff team, and it’s not like they’re flush with floor-spacing bigs, but his playing time has plummeted (12.8 MPG, after averaging 19.3 in the three seasons prior). He hasn’t been bad, but he’s on track to rack up more sub-35 3P% seasons than above average shooting campaigns from deep.
Nader can shoot. Severely lacking as a defender, and limited in offensive skills that require athleticism, Nader has still established the skill that should keep him in the league after his contract expires this summer (not a given before this season). He knows where his bread will continue to be buttered, decisively shooting, driving, or passing quickly every time he gets the ball.
I don’t know that Burton has done enough to stick around on an NBA roster. Already an old project as a 25-year-old rookie last season, he hasn’t made any obvious strides in 2019-20. Like Nader, he shoots frequently, but unlike his teammate, the shot rarely falls (.366/.179/.500 slash line).
This might appear too high for a player who was traded and subsequently waived. But he played well enough to survive the guarantee date on his contract, causing Sam Presti to opt to turn him into modest assets (Isaiah Roby and a Traded Player Exception) rather than tax savings.
Roberson: ?. Here’s hoping there’s basketball in Robes’ future.
Hervey: Maybe he’ll finally get some real playing time if some of the players above get dealt.
Roby: The new arrival hasn’t had a chance to do much more than receive a jersey number.