The OKC Thunder thought they had a steal in Theo Maledon during the 2020 NBA Draft, now, the team has to decide his future
Many NBA Draft experts had a first-round grade on Theo Maledon during the 2020 NBA Draft cycle, so when Sam Presti landed Maledon via a trade-up at pick 34, it was viewed as a steal. The then 19-year-old point guard would go on to surprisingly lead the OKC Thunder in minutes played during the 2020-21 NBA season averaging 10 points, three rebounds, as many assists, and a steal per game on 36-percent shooting from the floor and 33-percent shooting from deep.
While his efficiency numbers were not there, it was easily overlooked due to the roster around him. He showed flashes that made the fanbase believe he could be a high-end backup point guard for the length of his career which is incredible value for his draft slot.
Maledon then showed up to the 2021 NBA Summer League circuit looking jacked, and this body transformation was praised heading into the first game. Well, like a bad Elvis street performer, Maledon laid an egg in Vegas and if he was on stage performing specious minds, he would see tomatoes splattering the stage.
Things did not get better from Vegas, while his usage percentage increased this past season, his inefficiency continued dropping to 30-percent from three, staying at just 39-percent from the mid-range and only improving to 53-percent at the rim last season. With certain metrics, you can grade out Maleodn as the worst player in the entire NBA this past season. Despite some numbers suggesting that I do think it is a step too far, but not a leap.
The 6’5 combo guard does not have the shooting to play off-ball, does not have the playmaking ability to warrant taking touches away from Tre Mann on the bench unit, one or more of these potential four selections might be a guard(s), and I think seven guards on the current roster had a better season than him.
That does not lead to any warm and fuzzy feelings about the future of Maledon as the team needs to create some roster spots. Then, you look at his contract as he is only owed part of his 1.9-million dollar salary with a team option for next year allowing the team to move on from him with no future money on the books if they so choose.
While Sam Presti did invest in Maledon, and sure, there is still promise for his career, a change of scenery might be what is best for the 20-year-old. I would give him a 50/50 shot at being on the opening night roster in Bricktown.