To make it in the NBA, most players have to find a role. They have to develop an elite skill that gives them value over a replacement. Unless you are a LeBron James or Kevin Durant, NBA careers aren’t simply handed to you, they are earned.
DeAndre Liggins is in the early stages of earning an NBA career right now. He’s earning minutes with the Oklahoma City Thunder by working hard every day and being ready at any moment to come in and play hard.
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks has noticed this and that’s why we have seen Liggins as the newest regular to the Thunder rotation in the past few games.
When the Thunder traded James Harden, Daequan Cook and Cole Aldrich to the Houston Rockets this season, opportunities to make the 10-man rotation opened up.
Kevin Martin has filled the Harden role and Hasheem Thabeet has taken the Aldrich role. But the Cook role is still available.
So far this season, we have seen Brooks go with more minutes for Thabo Sefolosha and a 9-man rotation rather than one of the players at the end of the bench. Liggins is getting his chance now and so far has not disappointed.
The Thunder aren’t going to ask much from Liggins. They just want him to play hard. He has done just that showing that he can be a very capable defender as well as crashing the glass on the offensive end to gain extra possessions for the Thunder.
Liggins is just in his second year in the NBA and his game kind of resembles Tony Allen’s. He’s not even close to Allen’s level in terms of an elite defender and glue guy but Allen is definitely the player Liggins should model his game after.
You can immediately see the similarities on the offensive end. Liggins is always ready to cut backdoor and crash the glass unexpectedly, two things that can be very valuable to a team and especially a second unit.
Liggins is 6-foot-6, 209 pounds so he has the size to matchup with other wing players in the league. This is something the Thunder need in their rotation right now too. Durant and Sefolosha are really the only players playing for the Thunder right now that can guard other wings. Martin is a very poor defender and Westbrook is a little undersized.
This is why Liggins has a great chance to start earning more minutes for the Thunder. They have a need for a player like him. They need someone they can throw on LeBron for 5-8 minute stretches who might be able to hold his own.
Brooks is always looking to improve the Thunder defensively. That’s why we’re seeing Reggie Jackson in the backup point guard role instead of Eric Maynor right now. That’s why Kendrick Perkins will always get his minutes and that’s why Sefolosha’s playing time has increased.
It’s there for the taking for Liggins and the Thunder wouldn’t mind at all if he takes that role. OKC already has the best offense in the NBA so they aren’t looking for more scoring. They’re looking for Liggins and the energy he brings to the floor.
The Thunder have a long road trip ahead of them right now. Liggins will likely continue to get some chances in those games. It’s the perfect situation for someone like him to rise to the occasion and prove he is of value.