After a disappointing loss to the Charlotte Hornets in yesterday’s Summer League opener, the Thunder’s summer squad came out roaring for its second game in Las Vegas and beat the Brooklyn Nets 90-76 in a cathartic and exciting victory.
While D-Ham managed to fill up the stat sheet against the Hornets, he failed to provide the same level of impact and understanding that he flashed during the 2017-2018 pre-season. Coming out of the gates, Hamilton played one of the worst quarters of basketball I’ve seen in a while. He was completely out of sync; unable to safely dribble, penetrate, or defend simple pick-and-roll actions. But in the 2nd quarter, as the Brooklyn defense began to relax against him, he came alive spurring on a dominant stretch by OKC, leading to a 16 point lead by halftime. However, things changed quickly for D-Ham in the 3rd quarter, again reverting back to the player he was in the 1st quarter. Even with a strong 2nd quarter, Hamilton is far too inconsistent to realistically make the roster if he continues to play like this.
If Thunder fans don’t know what type of player Diallo can be, this is the film to show them. With 19 points, 8 rebounds, and two rim-rattling dunks, Diallo took over the game without even commanding the ball. His athleticism will always be the first thing talked about when Diallo’s name is brought up, but Diallo is more than a one-trick pony. He’s very quickly shown that he isn’t the defensive liability one would expect and his shooting motion is something that genuinely excites me. He has an abnormally clean shot for someone who failed to prove himself as a strong shooter in college. I am far less concerned with his ability to be an above average shooter than most and think he can shoot at least 35% from 3 in his rookie season.
Diallo has a clear role on this team now and into the future, but I hope that the coaching staff has him watching tape of Dion Waiters. Dion was given the nickname “Downhill Dion” because the coaching staff wanted him to prioritize getting downhill and to the rim over his preferred mid-range game. If Diallo can follow in Dion’s footsteps, the game will come quite easily to him with the talent around him. Diallo played off-ball for the majority of his time in college, but he is already showing that he has a stronger understanding of the game than your average raw athletic shooting guard. He might truly be the combo guard OKC has needed for a long time.
Dakari Johnson and Terrance Ferguson
Dakari continues to stand out as an NBA ready player in Summer League. Posting a stat line of 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in only 18 minutes of action. Early on he quickly showed that he learned his lesson from yesterday, going strong to the basket rather than settling for floaters in the paint; quickly setting a tone that OKC ruled the painted area. With two strong showings, I’d be shocked to see Dakari get extended minutes the rest of the Summer League.
In nearly opposite fashion to that of Diallo, T-Ferg just can’t seem to get his shot to drop. But Thunder fans shouldn’t worry, because much like Domantas Sabonis in his rookie season, T-Ferg’s showing that he has a strong understanding of the game. He’s making the passes he needs to make, he’s spacing the floor in the correct spots he needs to be in, and he’s shooting the shots he needs to take, but they’re just not dropping yet. However, that’s an issue that has an easy fix for someone with a smooth shooting motion like Ferguson. He’s young and he’s yet to get a lot of reps. The more he does what he’s supposed to, the more comfortable and natural it will become.
But T-Ferg once again had an excellent defensive game even with his offensive struggles. In the first quarter, he used his length to alter back to back shots in quick succession and had a great block at the end of the 1st half leading to a Diallo basket on the other end. He’s really comfortable defending in the paint with his long arms ending up with 2 steals and a block, and it’s clear that he’s learned a lot from both Andre Roberson and Paul George. He’s a project, but he’s worth taking the time and patience.
Kevin Hervey only played 12 minutes but that may have been in large part because of his shot selection. Any time he gets the ball he’s shooting it, no matter where he’s at. Which I can’t help but respect, but at the same time, he could be a lot more effective if he would slow down and just let the shots come to him naturally instead of forcing them.
Deonte Burton was signed to a two-way contract today with the Thunder, but think this has signed of being this year’s Ronnie Price for the Thunder. Burton has looked out of control nearly every time he dribbled the ball more than once and is a turnover machine in transition. If the Thunder were looking to take a chance on someone on this SL roster, I can’t help but ask, why not OKC native and SL standout Rashawn Thomas?
Continuing on Rashawn Thomas, once again he had a great game. I am absolutely enamored by what a team player he is. He’s got great timing on defense as an off-ball defender where he pokes and prods at any player daring to drive on the Thunder, and he’s continually the first one down the court in transition; opening up either a clear shot for himself or a driving lane for the other wings. If he keeps this up Rashawn is going to find himself a two-way contract with someone around the league if not the Thunder.
And last but not least, Devon Hall showed me enough to get me very excited about his potential as our 3rd string guard. He’s a natural passer which paired with his above average basketball IQ, led to several nice touch pass exchanges with Dakari. Hall’s shooting motion is very Derek Fisher-like, but with less dependency on his triceps. I’m excited to see what Hall can do with some of D-Ham’s minutes if given the chance.
Strong win by the guys in Blue, they get a much-needed rest tomorrow before taking on the Raptors Monday afternoon on NBA TV.