Picked up by the Hornets with the 55th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, Semaj Christon was subsequently traded to the Thunder in exchange for cash considerations. Many sports analysts praised the move by the Thunder, referring to Christon as “a low-risk, high-reward prospect”.
Christon logged significant minutes in 4 out of the Thunder’s 5 Summer League match-ups, only sitting out of the 3rd game against the Nets. So what did he do with the floor time? His numbers are as follows:
Grizzlies: In 18:05 he scored 8 points off of 2-for-4 (50%) shooting, including 1-of-2 (50%) from beyond the arc. He was 3-for-4 (75%) from the free throw line while picking up a personal foul of his own. He also managed to log 4 rebounds (3 off., 1 def.) and a steal, but also recorded 2 turnovers and had a shot blocked.
76ers: In 31:25, as one of the starters of that day’s game, he scored 12 points off of 5-for-14 (35.7%) shooting, including 0-for-3 (0%) from downtown. He didn’t have a good day at the free throw line either, going 2-for-5 (40%). He only had 1 offensive rebound in this game, but did manage a steal for the second straight contest. You could tell he was having a frustrating day with 5 personal fouls, but he did manage a good assist-to-turnover ratio (5 assists to just 2 turnovers).
Nets: He did not play, as he was one of five players given the day off.
Pacers: In 28:06, starting for the second time in three games, he scored 8 points off of 2-for-7 (28.6%) shooting, including missing his lone attempt from downtown. Although he had a much better day at the charity stripe this time around, knocking down all 4 free throw attempts. He recorded a steal for his third straight game, and added two defensive rebounds to go with it. Although his assist-to-turnover ratio was not good at all this time around (1 assist to 3 turnovers), and his 7 personal fouls would have had him ejected from any regular season contest.
Heat: In 27:13, in his third start in four games, he scored 17 points off of a lights-out 7-for-8 (87.5%) shooting performance that included a 2-for-2 (100%) 3-point shooting display. Although at 1-for-2 (50%), his free throws look like they still need a bit of work. He actually had 2 steals in this game to go along with 2 defensive rebounds, and his assist-to-turnover ratio went back to his better looking numbers (5 assists to just 2 turnovers once again).
Totals: In 104 minutes and 49 seconds, or roughly 26 minutes a game, his per-game averages are as follows: 11.3 points off of 48.5% shooting (37.5% from 3-point range), 66.7% free throw shooter, 2.8 assists, 2.3 rebounds (1 off., 1.3 def), 1.3 steals, 3.3 personal fouls, 2.3 turnovers, and 0.3 blocks against.
If you got the chance to watch any of the Orlando Summer League this year, and got the chance to actually see Christon in action, it was readily apparent that this kid is a high-intensity, hustle player. He’s always good for at least one steal per contest, and is fearless when attacking the basket and going for the loose ball. Lack of effort is something you’ll never have to worry about from Christon, but his temper is something that might concern you, as he has displayed a “Westbrook-like” volatility at times. The thing is, that’s what you get with high-intensity, high-emotion players. When coaching them, you just have to find a way to keep the volatility in check.
For a guard, his shooting can be rather streaky at times as well, especially in terms of his free throw shooting. He’s only 6’3″, so I don’t see him having a valid excuse for being a 66.7% shooter, when I, myself, have been known to post better percentages at the charity stripe.
For a 55th overall pick, and a 2nd rounder without a guaranteed contract, Christon actually has amazing upside, as he would give the Thunder a third guard with an attacker’s mentality. Guards with that mentality always help more than they hurt, so I’d welcome it with open arms. The thing is, this is the Thunder we are talking about here. I’m not sure if there is an NBA roster with a deeper group of guards. That fact alone will ensure that the struggle for a roster spot will be a mighty one for Christon.
But he can also look at it like this: When it comes to the guard position in the NBA, if you can make it in OKC, you can make it anywhere. Only time will tell if Christon has what it takes.