Friday, March 24 2023

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s 115-99 win over the Detroit Pistons felt about as close to a regular season as a preseason game could feel.

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault leaned heavily on playing essentially just an eight-man rotation. In a showcase of young cores, the Thunder’s impressed more than the Pistons’.

The Thunder were able to continue to shoot lights out from outside as they went 13-of-32 (40%) from deep. The Thunder were led by a multitude of players as seven players finished with double-digit scoring.

Overall, this was a nice and balanced attack on offense. The best young players on the Thunder played like the best young players on the court this game.

Let’s take a look at player grades in this impressive win.

Josh Giddey: A+

It seems like Josh Giddey is taking shooting coach Chip Engelland’s lessons to heart.

The 20-year-old shot 4-of-8 from deep this game and finished with 16 points, nine assists and five rebounds.

Giddey was in his bag all game long and was cocky enough to shoot a heat-check three and splash a contested mid-range jumper in the face of Pistons center Isaiah Stewart.

It’s unrealistic to expect Giddey to shoot like this on a regular occurrence when the regular season begins, but the shooting mechanics and mentality are definitely skills that can transition over.

Giddey continues to dominate in preseason and looks more than ready for the regular season to start.

Ousmane Dieng: A

Ousmane Dieng stole the show in the fourth quarter.

What’s usually reserved as garbage time for players to pad their stats gave the 19-year-old some breathing room to play around with the ball in his hands as the lead ball-handler.

The results created Thunder fans to lose their collective mind in excitement as Dieng was able to handle the ball with the fluidity you’d typically see from someone five inches shorter.

The highlight of Dieng’s dance was late in the fourth quarter as he iso’d his way to a driving reverse-layup after initially starting the half-court possession with No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey in his grill in the perimeter.

Overall, Dieng finished with 13 points that included going 3-of-3 from three. These are the flashes that excite the Thunder with the hope that they can eventually turn sustainable.

Aleksej Pokusevski: A

Speaking of turning flashes into something sustainable, Aleksej Pokusevski — the previous long-term project of the team — turned in another solid performance and is slowly creeping his way toward the starting conversation.

Pokusevski finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

The starting frontcourt spots are still up for grabs and Pokusevski certainly has earned his way into being in the conversation. After starting the last two seasons with notoriously slow starts, it appears that won’t be the case his junior season.

Jalen Williams: A-

Jalen Williams had a different assignment than what he’s grown used to in the preseason. Instead of coming off the bench as the backup point guard, Williams was entered into the starting lineup as the starting four.

Despite the wild change in role, Williams still flourished with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

The 21-year-old has a little bit of SGA in his scoring game as he uses his thickness to create space on his drives to the basket. Instead of being extremely quick, Williams’ scoring game is more aligned with his teammate’s as a methodical-and-slow scorer.

Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire

Source: Yahoo Sports


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