OKC Thunder: Bench production continues to impress

OKC Thunder guard Svi Mykhailiuk (14) defends Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby (3) : Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Svi Mykhailiuk (14) defends Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby (3) : Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /
OKC Thunder
Isaiah Roby. OKC Thunder : Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

The OKC Thunder are incapable of meeting fans’ expectations. When Thunder fans expect this club to lose, they win. When fans expect a particular lineup, Mark Daigneault throws a proverbial curveball on the court to see what continues to work and what does not work for this young Thunder team.

The most surprising development over the season is undoubtedly the bench unit’s production. Although the starting lineup looks different as of late, that has not deterred the second unit from generating points.

This past week’s bench unit has become even more surprising as the typical starters have been out for quite some time. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be reevaluated mid-April with plantar fasciitis, and Luguentz Dort suffered a concussion during the loss against the Boston Celtics earlier this week. Darius Bazley has missed a reasonable amount of time due to a shoulder injury, and the injuries seem to be plaguing this team.

Although this is a beautiful recipe to acquire draft picks, one could infer that having this many players in-and-out of the rotation could be detrimental to this club’s chemistry.

The rotations have been quite the opposite. OKC has flourished with the “next man up” mentality.

Expect consistency from the OKC Thunder bench

As we look at this season’s bench production, the second unit averages 36.4 points per game in just 17.9 minutes of action while also averaging 45.4 percent shooting from the field.

Moreover, the 3-point consistency is what has been pleasant. The Thunder bench is making close to five 3-pointers per contest. The percentage is not appealing, but with the high volume of shots, close to 14 shots per game, it is a welcome sign Thunder fans will take.

In comparing these numbers to last week, the percentages are somewhat identical. The numbers are noteworthy because the personnel has changed throughout the season, and OKC is still producing the same numbers.

Out of the many rotations throughout the year, it is surprising that an entirely different group is averaging the same amount of points for this second unit.

Whether it is newcomer Svi Mykhailiuk stepping in to provide double-digit scoring or Ty Jerome showing his ability to be comfortable under any circumstance, the Thunder have playmakers coming off the pine.

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This week was undoubtedly a collective effort. Two-way wing Josh Hall even posted a career-high in scoring against the Dallas Mavericks with 10 points.

The only issue that should be concerning is the lack of continuity, but it seems that coach Daigneault has figured out a recipe for success with ball movement and getting out on the break.

A guy that rarely gets enough credit for his production coming off the bench is Justin Jackson. Jackson is rarely going to make the wrong play, and he has a knack for being aware at all times on the court.

Look at this play where Jackson runs in transition with ease, finding Svi for the easy two.

Jackson can get out on the break quickly, and everything about this second unit is athletic. Svi will only bolster the bench numbers down the stretch as he seems like he has a rapport with this ball club.

Thunder fans, no matter who is suiting up for what game, whether it be nine players or a full roster, this bench will give the maximum effort.

Sure it is exciting when the Thunder wins games at full strength, but when the bench unit carries this team when nobody has given them a shot, that makes it much more enjoyable.

Look for OKC to continue to find its stride with the second unit.

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