Darius Bazley Vegas film room highlights: Rookie offers reason for optimism

Darius Bazley, OKC Thunder (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Darius Bazley, OKC Thunder (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With the OKC Thunder at the start of a new era, players like rookie Darius Bazley could well be a factor in the future core. His Vegas showing offered a reason to be optimistic.

This year’s iteration of the OKC Thunder will be extremely different than previous seasons. An OKC club without Russell Westbrook will take some getting used to as it represents the first time in 12 seasons the Brodie won’t be gracing the Cheasapeake hardwood other than as a visitor.

Assets obtained via the two superstar trades are expected to begin the season with the club although Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari may end up on the trade block before the deadline. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will initially serve as the cornerstone of the R and R era.

Despite the trio of trades nine players are expected back although some may also become trade fodder prior to season start or the deadline.

More from Thunderous Intentions

As such, younger players are expected to take a larger role this season so the brain trust can gauge their long term potential and to help them expedite the learning curve via experience.

With this being the situation the rookie Darius Bazley may benefit from the changing franchise situation. Typically, with an asset this raw we’d expect him to spend most of his time with the G-League OKC Blue instead of with the varsity club. This may still prove to be the case, but it’s less likely than seasons past given Sam Presti may want to accelerate Bazley’s ascent with the club.

And, while the rook showed off some skills and potential in Vegas, it’s important to remember he will be a work in progress.

Vegas highlights:

Due to Bazley being obtained via a pick swap with the Grizzlies his paperwork was held up and couldn’t be pushed through until the first day of the Summer League. As such, he missed the first OKC Thunder game in Vegas. But, when he did hit the court there was much to salivate over as we look forward to the future.

Facing the 76ers in Game 2, Darius Bazley made his Summer League debut with the OKC Thunder and fans got an immediate glimpse of his raw skills. In the play below Bazley drives the paint showing off his quick first step prior to using his length to drop off an assist to Emanuel Terry. Although Bazley needs to develop, this move showcases his long term potential.

Trailing Team Croatia in Game 3, fans got another glimpse of potential as Bazley connected on a 9 foot shot by keeping the game simple driving in from the perimeter and pulling up when facing an opponent for the easy score.

Also from the third match versus Team Croatia, the rookie completed a move which speaks to his skill set already. Immediately this move made me think of a young Pascal Siakam and we all know how those spin moves paid dividends for Siakam this season.

In the film clip below Bazley first does a pump fake pulling the defender to him, then recognizing the opponent has recovered quickly he uses the spin move and completes the play with a step back basket. That’s three offensive moves married into one shot. Impressive indeed.

With only 39 seconds remaining Bazley blocks Marijan Cakarun showing why OKC fans should be excited for this youngster’s future development on both sides of the ball.

On the very next scoring play, Bazley weaves his way through traffic to score two points and does so by pulling several defenders to himself. Sure, it’s awkward – but his potential is undeniable.

The perimeter will always be something teams covet, but for Bazley to ascend into the future Thunder core his ability to become consistent from deep will expedite his entry into the varsity squad. To wit, in the last game, the OKC Thunder played at Vegas the rook put up some shots from deep including this bank shot 3-pointer.

Later in the same match, Bazley got up another successful 3-pointer and this one fell smoothly through the net. His form appears fundamentally sound and there’s a reason to believe he’ll develop into a solid perimeter shooter.

The other factor in this closeout game was most of the starters were rested so more opportunity was given to Bazley and he delivered.

And, we close it out with yet another 3-pointer. Each of the trio of deep shots shows off the rookie’s ability to hit from deep in different circumstances. In truth, none of the passes he accepted were on the mark. In the first, he had to reach back for it and in this one, he had to move to his left and regain his footing. The second shot was one he dribbled into.

Overall I’d say his long term capacity to grow this aspect of his game is positive.

As mentioned Darius Bazley may spend more time with the varsity squad than typical rookies this year. However, at season start there are enough players who can formulate a starting and reserve lineup so the brain trust may elect to start him in the G-League to give him as many minutes as possible.

More from Thunder News

Let’s not forget Bazley spent last season on an internship so he missed an entire season of competitive ball in spite of playing pickup with other like skilled players.

His efforts in Vegas equated to a stat line of 4.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.2 blocks. As for his shooting efficiency, he didn’t manage to get to the charity stripe which is something the team will want him to work on.

His perimeter efficiency while stellar 42.9 percent comes from a small sample size and the concerning shooting mark is his overall field goal percentage which was only 36.4 percent. This likely is a factor of Bazley needing more size, so hitting the weight room is key and granted the youngster just turned 19.

dark. Next. Taking a closer look at Thunder draft pick Darius Bazley

Admittedly, I wondered if this was a big stretch for GM Sam Presti when he selected the youngster, but from what we’ve seen so far and given the new direction of the OKC Thunder I think he has the potential to become a starter in the future and develop into a quality product.