OKC Thunder rookie Darius Bazley experienced a solid rookie season. TI takes a look at just how well he went.
Darius Bazley was taken by the Utah Jazz with the 23rd pick of the 2019 NBA draft. He was then traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Mike Conley deal. The OKC Thunder then traded their first-round pick Brandon Clarke in order to get Bazley.
While it would be easy to look at the raw numbers and say the Thunder made a mistake, this is not the case. Clarke averaged 12.1 points and 5.9 rebounds on a young team that missed the playoffs. This is a totally different situation to Bazley.
The Thunder rookie averaged 5.6 points and 4.0 rebounds on a team that was challenging for home court seeding in the incredibly tough Western conference. He was also playing behind the extremely talented Danilo Gallinari.
Bazley shows the OKC Thunder his importance for the future
Bazley performed his role well for this team. He had the usual rookie yips. His were a lack of confidence shooting the long ball. He was helped through this by his teammates, particularly Chris Paul, and showed the potential of what he could become.
The key number that needs to be looked at when taking in Bazely’s rookie season is 19, his age. This teenager was playing in a league of men and certainly held his own. He was in fact the seventh youngest player on any roster last season.
For a player this young to carve out a niche on any team is impressive. For a young player to carve out a niche on a team vying for the top four in the West shows that beneath the joking exterior hides the heart of a fierce competitor.
Bazley was always the first back on transition defense, the first support player down the court in transition offense. While he missed out on countless easy buckets, he was there for the clean up if required. The energy also never stopped, even when he was ignored for another option.