With the 2019 NBA Draft Combine in process, some prospects have pulled out amid rumored promises. Matisse Thybulle is among those and the OKC Thunder are the suspected team who extended the promise.
To say OKC Thunder General Manager, Sam Presti has a draft type would be like calling Russell Westbrook an athlete. It is a fact Presti likes lanky, defensive minded prospects. Consequently, the GM also seems to turn a blind eye to the ability of said prospect to be able to shoot.
Scan back through the past several drafts and the commonality of the picks all point to the same prototypical type. Sure, Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo show upside and have yet to reach their potential but the clear similarities are their defensive ability and athleticism.
In fairness, the clear identity of the OKC Thunder is defense first and foremost. That said after numerous consecutive seasons with the team struggling to hit from the perimeter or to produce offense off the bench led many to believe this year would be different.
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Most OKC Thunder fans were excited to think Sam Presti could address some roster gaps by selecting a prospect with shooting prowess. This being especially true this year given the salary cap restrictions the team is under.
However, it sure seems like Presti is going to stick to his typical prototype given the news out of Chicago. Specifically, Washington shooting guard Matisse Thybulle has pulled out of the NBA Draft Combine with what has been presumed is a draft night promise from an existing franchise. And based on Steve Kyler‘s tweet that team is none other the OKC Thunder.
Although it had been hinted at earlier, there was still hope (and again, this is a rumor so nothing is set in stone) Presti would target a shooter like Tyler Herro or Cameron Johnson who were projected to be available or in the range for OKC.
That’s not to say Thybulle isn’t intriguing given his outstanding defense. A scan of his progress in Washington speaks to this fact as the guard improved his steals and blocks virtually every year capping out with 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game this season. Thybulle also won the 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.
But, read any mock draft board and the common denominator jumps off the page like a flashing neon light: “limited offensively”.
Perhaps it’s just a quick gut reaction by yours truly, however, the question has to be asked. When you have superstar Russell Westbrook who leads the NBA in assists (10.7) why not capitalize on that asset? Westbrook already garners two assists more than his closest rival and that’s with a team who shot 34.8 percent from the perimeter in the season which ranked 22nd in the NBA.
Imagine how improved the OKC Thunder would be if they surrounded said star with shooters!
We’ll obviously have to wait until June 20th to confirm whether the rumor is true or not. And, perhaps Presti has some sort of plan in place to add shooters in the free agent market. But, with limited financial freedom to play with on first glance, this sure seems like a missed opportunity.