Without Dakari Johnson (rest) today versus Memphis, it was clear that this was going to be an uphill battle against the Grizzlies and the 4th overall pick, Jaren Jackson Jr. After a selfish and horrid first half, the Thunder woke up and began to play real basketball after halftime, but was unable to comeback, falling 85-92 in the first game of the Las Vegas Summer League Playoff Tournament.
I’ve been hard on Burton this week and all of my fears came to full fruition in this one. His shot selection and selfishness in the first half decimated the OKC offense, and his inability to defend Jackson Jr. was a massive problem when the game got close.
Burton cannot continue to keep the ball in transition. When he does it’s essentially a wasted possession, as you already know the ball either isn’t being passed or it’s going out of bounds. I don’t have the tracking data to back this up, but I’m fairly certain Burton failed to score at all in the paint this afternoon and he took A LOT of shots from the paint.
Burton has flashes were you can see his talent, but those flashes are sparse and if he cannot find consistency he cannot expect to stay in the league past the expiration of his two-way contract.
This was T-Ferg’s worst game by far. Through the first three games, Ferg showed high-level passing from the perimeter, but that passing failed to translate to the paint. He has a great sense of where his teammates are, but just fails to recognize where the weakside defender is located. He has to learn to settle down and slow himself. He’s got incredible athleticism, but fails to capitalize on it because he isn’t patient enough on drives and on catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Ferguson’s best attribute is his defense and, while he showed off great defense instincts and talent in the preliminary games, he displayed none of that against the Grizzlies. His offensive struggles clearly have made an impact on his level of effort leading to an exchange that had me pretty disappointed; where he missed a three, then as he was slumping his shoulders,was beat down the court by his man, and Devon Hall had to tap him on the shoulder as they were running to even get him to pay attention to the cutting Grizzlie. Ferg has to stay engaged even when his shot’s not falling or he will fall out of the rotation in what presumes to be a tightly contested playoff race in the West.
The 2nd Rounders
Although Kevin Hervey had the second-highest point total of the 2nd rounders this afternoon, it’s clear that he is the least ready of the three. Hamidou Diallo has a place with the team as he has legit two-way potential and fits perfectly next to Russ. Devon Hall could fit on any team as he is an excellent teammate who’s best attributes are his versatility and IQ.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Hall and Hervey will get regular minutes with the Blue, and Diallo will be spending a lot more time with the regular roster and get developmental minutes in the regular season. All three are still prospects to be excited about, but it’s clear Diallo is the true prize of the draft.
Hervey needs to work on his shot selection and rim-protection, Diallo his shooting and finishing, and Hall just needs to continue to refine his vast skill set. However, all three of these prospects are exciting enough that I’m going to be spending a decent amount of time watching the Blue to see how they continue to develop.
Rashawn Thomas was clearly the best player in white today. While he failed to capitalize around the basket in the first half, he was still playing with energy and guarded Jackson Jr. extremely well. His consistency across all four games is encouraging and I still believe that he was clearly the more deserving candidate for the two-way contract over Burton.
Much like I’ve said previously, this was a complete disappointment for Daniel Hamilton. Too much of his attention and energy was set on putting up stats rather than actually finding his role and helping his teammates. I think it’s safe to say that it’s time to pull the plug on him as a long-term prospect and as a lead guard.