Grading Thunder Players After Saturday’s Loss in Cleveland

Aleksej Pokusevski #17 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Aleksej Pokusevski #17 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Josh Giddey
Josh Giddey #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

Thunder Starting Lineup Grades

. SG. Oklahoma City Thunder. LU DORT. C-

Lu Dort was back in the starting lineup on Saturday evening after missing Wednesday’s game in Memphis with a left knee contusion. He came out firing, scoring five of the Thunder’s first seven points and taking five of the team’s first nine shots. He only played 22 total minutes, which was his second-lowest total for the entire season. He checked out with 3:54 left in the third quarter and didn’t re-enter the game during the fourth. Perhaps Mark Daigneault didn’t want to push Dort too far after missing the last game with an injury, or maybe he simply wanted to ride the hot hand(s) as the Thunder were making a run. Dort finished the night with seven points on 3-10 shooting to go with one rebound and one assist. He only made one of six three-point attempts.

A-. . PG. Oklahoma City Thunder. JOSH GIDDEY

Josh Giddey scored his 1,000th career point on Saturday night with a second-quarter layup on the way to his tenth double-double of the season. Giddey is the seventh-youngest player in NBA history to produce 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. Giddey’s impressive effort was a major reason why the Thunder were able to cut into the Cavaliers’ lead during the fourth quarter. He played nearly the entire frame and led the offense most of the time when he was on the court. He finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists to go with one steal and one block. Coach Daigneault praised Giddey’s competitiveness after the game.

. F. Oklahoma City Thunder. ALEKSEJ POKUSEVSKI. A-

Aleksej’s ten first-half rebounds were a career-high for the third-year player, largely overshadowing his rough 1-7 shooting start. He matched his presence on the boards with a strong offensive performance after intermission. Poku scored 13 points on 5-7 shooting in the second half, including a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc. He also blocked three shots during the game, earning his first multi-block game since November 23rd against the Nuggets. After averaging only 18 minutes per game over the last six contests, Poku played 34 minutes during Saturday’s game. He rose to the occasion and finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists. His improvement was a major storyline during the first month of the season, and Thunder fans certainly hope he can continue to contribute at this level.

Oklahoma City Thunder. JEREMIAH ROBINSON-EARL. B-. . F/C

This was a pretty quiet game from Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. He scored four points on 2-5 shooting and missed his only three-point attempt of the game. He had three rebounds (including one offensive rebound), two assists, and one block. He played only seventeen minutes, his lowest total since November 16th against Washington. JRE is proving that he’s the type of player whose contributions don’t always show up in the box score. He plays hard and does many of the little things well. His minutes fluctuate from game to game, but he’s showing that he’s the type of player who can be relied on when called upon.

B+. . G. Oklahoma City Thunder. SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER

Somehow Shai finished with the lowest plus/minus of any Thunder player (-17). Obviously, this stat isn’t foolproof and doesn’t always tell the entire story, but it’s interesting to note regardless. Even during an incredible season, SGA has shown a tendency to struggle in games where he’s not able to get his game going in the paint. He finished Saturday’s game with his fewest field goal attempts of the season, but still managed to score 23 points thanks in part to shooting a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. He fouled out for the first time in his career with 1:04 left in the game and the Thunder down 104-95.

Next up we’ll highlight the top contributor from the Thunder’s bench. We’ll also tell you about Cleveland’s best performer.