With the NBA season suspended Thunderous Intentions serves up the top three games for each OKC Thunder player and Deonte Burton is first on the list.
Despite coming off the bench and averaging 8.4 minutes a game, his contributions to ensuring strong defensive back-up and living up to OKC’s high flying attributes should not go unnoticed.
His numbers this year are almost identical to those of last year. But in my opinion, good production not only comes from how well someone plays but the amount of time they’re given to prove it.
Thunder players such as rookie Luguentz Dort or Abdel Nader have improved and shown us what they are capable of because they are out on the court for longer. If the same chance is given to Burton perhaps his influence would be felt even more.
The thing about defense which is a strength of Burton’s is that it doesn’t matter how many points you score or your numbers on the stat sheet because your true effort is typically demonstrated in how the person your guarding performs.
This could be said about Burton’s best game this season when he had the task of guarding LebBon James in their November game at the Staples Center. It is rare that you’ll have any player come out of a game against the King and say that they were able to limit him.
But Burton can certainly say that. In this matchup he spent eleven minutes on the floor and sunk two field goals. One of them an impressive reverse-layup assisted by Steven Adams.
He put pressure on James forcing him to take tough shots and turnover the ball. With Burton on the floor, James gave up a turnover and went 1 from 5 in the fourth quarter. It was this grit and fearlessness from the Thunder’s young player that could’ve turned things around and secured the OKC Thunder the victory (although they came up just short of the win).
Burton really can do that. This exceptional match against the Lakers is a reminder that if you give him the opportunity, he will do his best to make the most of it.
Another top performance he had was against the Brooklyn Nets in an overtime win where he showed his skills in nearly every stat category.