OKC Thunder beat Raptors at their own game – player grades, Nov 11th

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots b/t Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) and forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots b/t Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) and forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /
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A. . SG. Oklahoma City Thunder. LU DORT

Those who’ve followed me know I try not to repeat the grades if possible to distinguish who stood out. There are nights when everyone simply deserves the A+ (or conversely the F) but for the most part, I try to award five different grades to the starters.

To be clear, I grappled with who should garner the “A+” between SGA and Dort and not because of their output as much as how they filled in the stat box.  Ultimately, Lu got a slightly lower grade but it’s no knock against him as it was definitely one of his better performances.

Early in the season, Dort seemed to be forcing his offense. It wasn’t clear if he was trying to do too much based on a desire to prove his growth, to be helpful to SGA or if it was a task assigned by the coaches to ease the offensive burden/help SGA.

If he looked awkward or was forcing things in those early games, this performance offered the polar opposite. Lu let the game come to him, took his wide-open shots, and was a menace defensively. He along with SGA set the early tone with the weak side cuts and bringing aggression to both sides of the hardwood.

Dort wasn’t needed for the full contest (a sign of how well the team played) with him logging only 23 minutes but registering 13 points (including 3 of 4 long balls), he pulled down seven rebounds with FIVE of those on the offensive glass, two assists, and was a game-high +16.

. G. Oklahoma City Thunder. AARON WIGGINS. A-

Given the Raptors’ size (length) these next insertions were a bit of a surprise. I thought perhaps Mark Daigneault would stick with Jeremiah Robinson Earl and maybe add POKU but Wiggins was a definite surprise.

Granted Toronto did end up using players that don’t often get called upon as they deal without Pascal Siakam, Precious Achiuwa, and Khem Birch.

Coach Daigneault clearly had a method to his madness, however, as Wiggs was special in this game and lived up to the starting gig.

Like his linemates, he didn’t force his role taking what was given. He finished with 17 points, five rebounds, seven assists, a steal, and a block while playing a team-high 34 minutes.

Oklahoma City Thunder. ALEKSEJ POKUSEVSKI. B+. . F

I’ve been impressed by POKU this season. Sure there are still those moments where you’re left scratching your head. And there are still those jaw-dropping special moments.

The fact he’s becoming more consistent and stringing together more of the latter and less of the former is why Thunder fans should be excited.

POKU can be polarizing for those who love ball and/or the OKC Thunder. Of all the players on the team, he’s the one people either love or the opposite (gasp).

I’ve mentioned to my cohort Rylan several times I think this will be the season Aleksej takes a big step and I’m eager to see how he’ll fit alongside Chet Holmgren next season.

Plus let’s not ignore the prospect of that starting front court if OKC wins the lottery and therefore gets Wembanyama. Okay, so enough of my side tangent.

Poku did a bit of everything tonight with 14 points, five rebounds, and four blocks. He only gets the B+ grade because of my aforementioned OCD way of grading.