OKC Thunder rookie Darius Bazley plays with effort and heart

Darius Bazley of the OKC Thunder (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Darius Bazley of the OKC Thunder (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder kept rolling when Danilo Gallinari was out through injury. Darius Bazley has played a big part in this.

With Danilo Gallinari out for the entirety of the last road trip, Darius Bazley got to start all of these games for the OKC Thunder. While Bazley experienced rookie variations in his game, the Thunder are now 4-1 when the rookie starts.

Bazley is still passing up a lot of open 3-point shots, he is breaking down the defense with his ability to put the ball on the floor. Even in the half court, Bazley is using his good first step and his ability to hang in the air to make his way to the rim.

In the last three games in 2019, Bazley could not buy a bucket inside though. He was 0-6 from inside the line. Fortunately for the rookie in the one-point victory against the Toronto Raptors he went 4-of-7 from deep. A key contribution in a game where the Thunder were without three key players.

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You see, it helps to have the support of one of the best point guards ever. But as you see from the quote above, it is great for a rookie to have the full support of his coach. Bazley knows that if he competes with energy, even if he makes a mistake, his coach has his back.

This is a key part of the culture of the team. Every player is playing for each other and this is going to stand Bazley in good stead. Where Bazley is showing that he is playing his heart out for this team is on defense.

The rookie blocked four shots in the last three games of the year. On top of this he has collected 14 rebounds, all defensive. He has done this in games where the Thunder have struggled to contain the offensive board.

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Yes, Bazley is continuing to have rookie fluctuations but his heart and soul are put into every single play. With commitment like his, the OKC Thunder present and future look good.