Darius Bazley flashes the proper role for himself vs Miami

Darius Bazley #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Darius Bazley #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder fell short against the Miami Heat down the stretch after the OKC Thunder came back from down 21 points in the contest on Wednesday. In that game, the OKC Thunder saw Darius Bazley play a fantastic role in that game which leaves a bittersweet feeling for Thunder fans.

For Darius Bazley, the writing seems on the wall for his future in Oklahoma City, after inconsistent and disappointing play has plagued his career since being a first-round pick in 2019. Though, he has never been placed in a beneficial role for his skillset to this point in his NBA career.

Darius Bazley flashes potential, a more defined role, in a bittersweet game against the Miami Heat

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault made to shake up his starting lineup again on Wednesday against the Miami Heat, inserting Darius Bazley into the first five for the first time all season after he was a mainstay of the group for the past two seasons.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s ankle injury prompted this decision as the OKC Thunder will be without their key rotational big for a “week-to-week” timetable. This gives Bazley, an upcoming Restricted Free Agent this summer, another runway of opportunity to carve out a role for himself after seeing a few DNP-CDs last week.

Against Miami, Bazley posted 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block while shooting 57 percent from the floor. It is not just the stat line that is eye-popping in his season-high 30 minutes, it is the role he played to compile those stats that the fanbase and organization want to see more of.

Through 206 games of his NBA career, which includes 118 starts, Bazley is averaging nine points, five rebounds, nearly a block, and an assist per game. Inside the arc, Bazley is shooting just 40 percent from the floor in his career and 30 percent from deep.

His body of work, and the roster crunch the Thunder face in the upcoming offseason, all point to Sam Presti not reaching a contract extension with Darius Bazley.

However, if he can duplicate his role from the game against the Miami Heat, Bazley has a future in this league.

The former New Balance Intern has a high-level skill with his shot-blocking ability and some of the best switchable defense, which panned out for OKC last night as they got to bounce Bazley on Bam and Tyler Herro on Wednesday with the Thunder forward providing a lot of resistance against Bam an area the Bricktown boys typically struggles in.

What holds Darius Bazley back is his offensive end. Usually camps in the corner, or makes silly turnovers on slow sloppy drives, which has never made sense given his athleticism and potential offensive tools.

Against Miami, Bazley was used in the pick-and-roll as the roll man, he was cutting off the ball, and he even pulled out a floater and kept the offense flowing more than usual without hesitation or ball-stopping.

That should be his role moving forward this season, and no matter where his career takes him next year and beyond. The activity on the offensive end allows Darius Bazley to show off his athleticism, he just has to keep being aggressive while playing under control.

Watching Darius Bazley thrive on both ends against Miami is a bittersweet moment, and leaves fans wondering why this could not click the past three years. Now the question becomes, can he duplicate this performance?

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