Weekly Bolts: Losing with Style
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April 6, 2021
The Thunder lost a third consecutive game, again by double digits, dropping the team to 20-30 on the year. This loss, unlike nearly every other prior loss, was a drubbing by a fellow lottery-bound team.
And that’s okay.
At this point in the season, wins are not the goal. Wins are the enemy of a higher draft pick. But the games must be played, so the Thunder are wisely using the remainder of the season to evaluate. Jaylen Hoard got a two-way contract. Justin Robinson a 10-day contract. Aleksej Pokusevski is getting heavy minutes as the team’s primary scorer. Theo Maledon is getting the chance to direct the offense. Young guys are getting extended looks in real game opportunities.
This is a first for Thunder fans, and it should excite you. Sure, many of these guys may not even be with the team next year, let alone next week, but we all get to watch young players get a real shot at living out their dream of playing NBA minutes while OKC hopes to improve its draft slot. – John Napier
Ryan Woods and Brandon Rahbar break down the Thunder’s loss to the Pistons, and more importantly, other results around the league.
In a bit of a shocker, the Thunder waived Justin Jackson on Monday. Jackson, drafted as the 15th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by Portland, was acquired via trade from Dallas on November 27.
Jackson’s spot was quickly filled by Justin Robinson, signed to a 10-day contract. Robinson played in the G-League for the Delaware Blue Coats.
To cap a flurry of activity, the Thunder also announced the signing of Jaylen Hoard to a two-way contract. This spot became available after Moses Brown was given a full NBA contract.
ESPN ranked the Thunder #24 in its latest Power Rankings. Royce Young on the last week: “In their past two games, they lost by 37 to the Suns and by 48 to the Blazers. They had been winning in spite of their available roster, with injuries and other considerations reducing them down to a glorified G League roster. And as they position for a high lottery pick in the stretch run of the schedule, they might be hitting their stride.”
Aleksej Pokusevski again donned his fanny pack, and Daily Thunder beat writer, Brandon Rahbar, tried to solve the mystery of what’s inside. Unfortunately, Poku said the contents must remain a secret, and thus the legend of the fanny pack continues.
Daily Thunder senior writer Olivia Panchal joined the Topic: Thunder Podcast and explained how she became a Thunder fan.
April 8, 2021
After spending a month in the G-League, Aleksej Pokusevski found confidence in the G-League Bubble. The Serbian rookie’s confidence culminated in a record-setting night, knocking down seven threes and scoring a career-high 25 points, while adding 9 rebounds and 4 assists in the loss to the Hornets.
Theo Maledon also played well, scoring 25 points, along with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and even 2 blocks.
The Thunder’s two rookies are showing big time promise, and I sure love to see it. – John Napier
Poku set a Thunder rookie record with seven made three pointers, but OKC drops another, 113-102.
In the latest Daily Thunder Podcast, Ryan Woods, and me, John Napier, fawn over Poku’s stellar performance against the Hornets.
Theo Maledon’s breakout performance against the Suns was noticed, as the rookie second-round pick broke into the top 10 of NBA.com’s rookie ladder. With no Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Maledon has taken the reigns as the team’s primary floor general, showing flashes of potential.
Not that it matters to OKC this year, but if you’re curious how the play-in tournament works, ESPN has a guide on the mechanics.
Kirk Goldsberry (ESPN) tweeted an interesting graphic showing which teams are winning or losing more versus last year. In case you weren’t aware, the Thunder are losing a lot more than last year, but the difference is more dramatic for Toronto and Houston.
The NBA is expecting arenas at full capacity next season. Greater access to vaccines and testing may pave the way for fans to return in numbers to NBA venues. The NBA has a partnership with Clear, which offers health screening services, and it’s possible that teams could be screening fans before entry.
Rumble made a backwards half-court shot. Too bad it wasn’t for $20,000.
Scott Rafferty (NBA.ca) looks at the “fascinating potential of Aleksej Pokusevski in four plays.”
Eric Wong (The Athletic) has Pokusevski and Maledon among the 16 players on bad teams that could be late-season breakouts. Former Thunder wing, Hamidou Diallo is also among the players mentioned.