Thunder Notebook: Monday, October 8
Terrance Ferguson played just two minutes in yesterday’s preseason win over Atlanta, exiting the contest early with concussion-like symptoms. That concussion has now been confirmed.
Statement via the Thunder:
“The Oklahoma City Thunder announced today that guard Terrance Ferguson sustained a concussion during last night’s 113-94 preseason victory versus the Atlanta Hawks and he has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol.
Per the NBA’s Concussion Policy, Ferguson will now begin the NBA-mandated Return-to-Participation Protocol. This process includes a series of steps designed to ensure an athlete exhibits symptom-free behavior before resuming basketball activities. There is no predetermined timetable to complete the protocol, as each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.”
Per Brett Dawson of The Athletic, Ferguson has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s preseason finale, opening the door for Hamidou Diallo, Alex Abrines, and a gang of other options at the shooting guard position. A starter for tomorrow’s tilt against the Milwaukee Bucks has yet to be named, although Diallo has been intriguing enough through three games to have my vote. The 20-year-old rookie is averaging 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds thus far in the preseason — shooting 38 percent from the floor in the process. For what it’s worth, he was the choice to start the second half of yesterday’s game with Ferguson unavailable.
The Shooting Guards/Diallo Love
Through three preseason games, here are the numbers for the Thunder’s rotation of shooting guards:
Abrines: 8.7 PPG, 50% FG, 46.2% 3P, 16.2 MPG
Diallo: 8.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 38% FG, 23.9 MPG
Luwawu-Cabarrot: 5.5 PPG, 36.4% FG, 12.5% 3P, 17.8 MPG
Ferguson: 4 PPG, 62.5% FG, 40% 3P, 21.2 MPG
McDaniels: 2 PPG, 2 MPG
Alford: 1.5 PPG, 2 MPG
Though Ferguson seems like the odds-on favorite to start when the regular season begins, no one player has truly separated himself from the pack thus far. That being said, it’s Diallo that appears to have caught the attention of the locker room. Here are a few quotes after Sunday’s game in Tulsa via Erik Horne:
“He’s already ready for the NBA game, and it’s scary because he hasn’t reached his peak yet.” – Raymond Felton
“Outside of his rebounding, it’s not so much that, but it’s his discipline with what he’s picked up of training camp, his cuts, knowing the plays, it’s been good. He’s picked it up fast, especially for a rookie. Full credit for that. Everything else is just a bit of bonus.” – Steven Adams
“Heck of a talent; he’s got that star power in him. For him, he’s got to continue to go up the learning curve. That’s on us to help him get to his potential.” – Paul George
Again — Ferguson appears most likely to get the nod on opening night based on familiarity, but is Diallo all that far from supplanting him in the starting lineup? Assuming Abrines remains on a second unit that will likely need his shooting, and no meteoric rise from Luwawu-Cabarrot or Abdel Nader (when he returns), I believe Diallo gets the opportunity before Andre Roberson returns from injury. Though he’s not much of a threat from beyond the arc, he’s as capable as Ferguson in most areas and I think he has a higher upside. Given Ferguson’s underwhelming Summer League and forgettable two games of the preseason, this doesn’t really feel like too hot of a take.
To be clear — I don’t love any of these guys as starter-worthy players, but that’s the position the Thunder finds themselves in. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Billy Donovan try a number of combinations before it’s all said and done.
For those going through serious Russell Westbrook withdrawals:
Westbrook is believed to be on track for a return to action in the season opener versus the Warriors on October 16. With no news of a setback in his progression, one would assume things are still on track. You know how that goes, though. We’ll see.
Ah, yes. The most terrifying word in the Thunder dictionary: Re-evaluate. It is nice to see Russ getting shots up, and hey — the shot looks pretty good, huh? (*Tries not to get hopes up)
That’s all for today. Preseason finale tomorrow night in OKC. Regular season opener next Tuesday in Oakland. Getting close, folks.