After a disappointing loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the Las Vegas Summer League playoffs, the Thunder bounced back with a strong victory in the consolation game against the Orlando Magic, winning 87-85 on a buzzer-beating floater from two-way contract holder, Deonte Burton.
Now for some thoughts.
Outside of Dakari Johnson, no one has impressed me more than Dozier on this Summer League roster. He was by far the most consistent player across all five games and showed improvement in each major area with every contest.
Dozier isn’t going to be a star, nor is he a guaranteed success as a role player, but his growth in just one season is worth taking note and demands further attention if the organization keeps him in the fold — whether that’s with a two-way contract or with the OKC Blue.
Dozier’s versatility is really what makes him stand out on the court. He took on heavy ball-handling and play-making duties as Daniel Hamilton got worse with the ball in his hands with each passing game. But that added pressure didn’t phase him — instead, he took the opportunity to display his talent as a PnR handler; torching defenses with well-timed and placed passes to the open man, or with crafty finishing moves around the basket with the space given to him. Meanwhile, he also played above-average defense on a regular basis even with his added offensive workload, something many players fail to accomplish in his position.
The Second Rounders
With Kevin Hervey getting the start tonight in the place of Dakari (Rest), he was given a chance to show something he previously hadn’t in his minutes coming off the bench, and in the first quarter he played maybe his most complete quarter of the summer with solid defense and smart passing. However, his shot section still leaves much to be desired, along with his screen setting. He’s too often late to his spot, causing there to be no real contact leaving the ball-handler without any real advantage. This was an encouraging game from him, though. I’m looking forward to seeing how he continues to develop with the Blue this season.
Hamidou Diallo, or the new heartthrob of Thunder fans worldwide, continues to amaze me. His acceleration is breath-taking, especially when he gets his defender on the back of his hip coming off screens. As soon as he feels the opening, he gets to the basket in the blink of the eye, leaving defenses to either just foul him or give up an uncontested look at the rim. While he needs to diversify his finishing arsenal and improve his free throw shooting, he’s still managing to put the ball in the basket with his current limitations. With time and the excellent developmental staff in OKC, I have a lot of faith in his long-term projection as a potential high-level starter.
(And if not, his dunks will still be fun)
Devon Hall continued to be the quietest stat sheet player on the Thunder, but I cannot get enough of this guy. From a basketball purist point-of-view, he does everything right. His passing and decision making are nearly flawless, and his shooting is good enough to be a factor as a fringe role player next to a player like Russ. I really hope he gets a chance to prove himself more in pre-season.
This was THE Terrance Ferguson game that explains why the organization is so high on him as a player and a prospect. For the first time in the five games played, Ferg looked as though he was playing at the right speed on offense, and his defense returned to the form he presented in the first three games.
He finally began to utilize his length in attacking the rim by leading defenders in one direction before shifting to the other side of the rim for an easy finish. This is what he has to unlock consistently to be a threat on both sides. His shooting will come as he gets more time as well. He often rushes through his shot as a defender is closing out instead of just taking the time to properly align himself and release with rhythm. And much like the first three games, Ferg displayed some top-notch vision and passing for a wing, especially in transition. While his ball-handling needs work, his ability to make reads is very encouraging.
If Ferg can take this performance into his summer training program he should come out as a much improved and ready player for the 2018-2019 season.
This was the least amount of time Daniel Hamilton spent as the lead play-maker and the offense looked dramatically better. After the loss to the Grizzlies, I said that it is time to conclude this D-Ham experiment and with the results this evening, I can’t help but feel vindicated. That being said, I was very high on his potential as a lead ball-handler last year and thought he had real potential, but with the regression shown this summer, I have to admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong. I don’t know what’s next for Hamilton, but I can only hope whatever it is, it isn’t with the Thunder any longer, if only for the sake of the development of the guys drafted last month.
I am prepared to die on the Rashawn Thomas hill if need be. Much like Hall, nearly everything this guy does is what you want a player in his role to do. He did pull a Deonte Burton by attempting to go coast-to-coast after grabbing a rebound twice and both times ended in a botched possession; but these aren’t normal possessions for the homegrown talent. His quickness in recovering after jumping for a rebound is what unlocks his potential as an energy guy who can crash the boards. Thomas has shades of a smaller Montrez Harrell that really excite me if he ever pans out.
Deonte Burton can dunk. Outside of that, his ability to finish around the rim is almost non-existent. Forcing this guy into a layup is a guaranteed miss and Burton loves taking them. He was effective once again on the perimeter offensively and did a good job of jumping the passing lanes which led to his three electric dunks, and a tough floater won the game for the Thunder in the end, completing what was an up-and-down week for Burton, with many shades of Lance Stephenson and a few of Marcus Smart mixed in. Burton just has to get more consistent and learn when to actually take over on the offense.
Burton’s full highlights:
Overall, I’d say this was a successful Summer League for OKC. I would’ve liked to have seen them go further in the playoffs, but with the decision to rest Dakari Johnson, it’s clear that winning a July title wasn’t high on the list of priorities for this team. It will be interesting to see which players get a chance to spend time on the main roster when the 2018-19 season begins in October.