In the three games the OKC Thunder have played this week, Aleksej Pokusevski has started to show us why the team believed in him so much.
Since Aleksej Pokusevski came out of the concussion protocol, after missing two games, he has played in a way that has shown us what the OKC Thunder front office saw in him. It is almost as though because he was forced to stop, he has refocussed and remembered what makes him so good.
The start of the season was not kind for Pokusevski, especially with his 3-point shooting. Prior to the enforced pause, Pokusevski was 1-of-16 which is only 6.25 percent from deep. However, apart from his shooting, Pokusevski had a solid start to his career.
The greatest fear I had for the 19-year-old rookie was that his potential was not going to translate into production. He had fewer points (5) than turnovers (10) in the five games prior to the training mishap which caused him to sit out.
The OKC Thunder have benefitted from Aleksej Pokusevski’s clearer mind.
Pokusevski’s upward tick in production came in the first game back against the Brooklyn Nets. I think it was Theo Maledon who put a shot up and it missed. Pokusevski was in the perfect position to get the rebound and he dunked the ball hard, probably making sure it went through for points.
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He would end up with seven points on the night which is more than he scored in the previous five contests. He would also collect six rebounds and a block. In the next two games, Pokusevski would tally seven points, eight rebounds, two blocks, and one assist.
Then in the second game of a back-to-back, it appeared that Pokesevski started to really put the pieces together. The Los Angeles Lakers would end up winning the game in question by 29 points but Pokusevski would play just under 21 minutes. What he did in that time was learn, showing that even in blowout games there is much to be gained.
Pokusevski would end the game with 10 points, four rebounds, three blocks, and two assists. He went 4-of-9 from the floor and 2-of-4 from deep. I have been saying for a while now that Pokusevski’s shot looked short and that the NBA 3-point line is a little further out than he is used to.
The two 3-point shots that he made were from the side where the NBA 3-point line is closer to the international standard that Pokusevski is used to. This is a small difference but the difference is he is making the shots from the wing.
Pokusevski has also managed to collect an offensive rebound and at least one block in three of the last four games, As a big man, there are not many other metrics you can look at which say that you are in the right positions at both ends of the floor. Pokusevski is starting to find his groove and the Thunder will benefit from this.