One Thing We’ve Learned About Each Thunder Player This Season

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Kenrich Williams #34 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Key Reserves

Isaiah Joe is one of the OKC Thunder’s best free-agent signings

The Thunder aren’t normally major players in free agency. Past notable signings include Nerlens Noel, Derek Fisher, and Patrick Patterson. Joe signed a three-year, $6 million contract shortly before the start of the regular season after being waived by Philadelphia. He averaged only six minutes and three points per game through the first 17 games of the season. Over the last month, Joe has played 17 minutes per game and is averaging ten points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal per game.  He’s also shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc on six shots per game. His strong performance gave Mark Daigneault no choice but to reward him with regular minutes. If he keeps playing this well, he’ll continue to see more time on the court each night.

Aaron Wiggins will be a rotation player when the OKC Thunder are competing again

Wiggins’s contributions don’t always show up in the box score. This year he’s averaging seven points, four rebounds, and two assists while playing twenty minutes per game. These are respectable numbers, but they don’t jump off the page. What does stand out is the fact that the Thunder are 6-0 when Wiggins starts and 6-2 when he plays at least 25 minutes. Wiggins has raised each of his shooting percentages from one year ago while taking fewer shots per game. He finished the 2021-2022 season with an offensive rating of 107 but has a rating of 121 through 23 games in 2022-2023. He seems to be finding his place in the offense.

Tre Mann still has the ability to take over a game

Tre Mann would have preferred to start the season differently. His scoring and shooting percentages are both down from his rookie season. He’s looked uncomfortable through multiple stretches, but there’s no denying the potential Mann still has as a shooter and a shot creator. He was at the center of a comeback win against the Spurs on November 30th when he scored ten of his sixteen points in the fourth quarter. He helped the Thunder to a near-victory against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 9th when he scored 21 points and hit four of five three-point attempts in the second half. Sophomore slumps are normal, and the future is still bright for Mann.

Kenrich Williams isn’t afraid to get chippy

Only one Thunder player has had multiple technical fouls so far this season. That player is Kenrich Williams. Williams is one of the lone veterans on a young Thunder team and isn’t afraid to stand up for himself and his teammates. Williams challenged Rudy Gobert after the All-Star center tripped him as he tried to stand up during the second quarter of a 135-128 Thunder win on December 4th in Minnesota. More recently, Williams was assessed a technical foul during a home game against the Grizzlies on December 17th shortly before Ja Morant was ejected for receiving his second technical of the game. Perhaps the refs were just quick to the whistle that evening. Regardless, every team needs an enforcer, and perhaps Kenrich can be that player for the Thunder.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl does all of the little things well

JRE is currently week-to-week with an ankle sprain. Before his injury, he was having a solid sophomore season. He’s appeared in 26 of 27 games when healthy, and he’s been in the starting lineup 18 times. He’s raised his scoring by nearly one point per game while shooting 38 percent from three on three attempts per game. He’s secured at least one offensive rebound in 21 of his 26 appearances this season, including eight games with three or more offensive boards. There’s still room for him to improve on the defensive end, but he’s got an uphill battle to fight as a 6-9 center who often has to guard the other team’s greatest interior threat.

Darius Bazley is a really good defender

The Thunder played the San Antonio Spurs at home on November 30th. The Spurs came into the game as losers of eight straight games, but they held a 17-point lead at halftime after scoring 77 points before intermission. Bazley was the only Thunder player who didn’t enter the game in the first half. The second half was an entirely different story. The Thunder held the Spurs to 34 second-half points on their way to a 119-111 victory. Baze played 14 minutes during the second half and had the best plus/minus (+14) of any Thunder player. His presence completely changed the game on the defensive end. Through 21 games, Bazley also has the best offensive rating (106) of any of his four seasons in the NBA. Obviously, his contract expires after this season, and it’s unclear how the Thunder will approach Bazley’s status with the team. He’ll certainly get a second contract whether it’s with the Thunder or another team.