OKC Thunder’s Other Guys Proving Offensive Mettle As Play-In Nears

Luguentz Dort #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Luguentz Dort #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder play-in push warrants degrees of offensive production from more than just a few players. With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s injuries forcing him to miss some games this week, it’s imperative for the Thunder’s playoff hopes to unlock other guys’ scoring aptitudes.

The OKCThunder will need to see players around their superstar point guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, step up both when he is and is not on the floor. That was evident throughout this week as the Thunder went 2-2.

The OKC Thunder need their rotation of players to step up around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on both ends of the floor.

Josh Giddey

For most of the season, Josh Giddey has been seen as the Robin to SGA’s batman. While his efficiency and consistency continues to be apparent flaws, Giddey has shown recently why he fits this bill as the play-in push comes to a pivotal stretch.

He looked prime to take over the offensive cudgels team when Shai was on the bench, especially when they faced the Charlotte Hornets last week. Giddey scored 31 points on 14-of-22 shooting and even flirted with a triple-double of 10 rebounds and nine assists.

He followed it up with an 18-point performance against the Detroit Pistons, albeit in a much less efficient field goal clip of 6-of-19. However, Giddey led the team in assists in that game with seven and had the highest +/- with +11 in 34 minutes of action.

Gilgeous-Alexander missed both games as Giddey took charge of running the Thunder’s offense. Giddey’s presence on the court, on both games, were tremendous for the team, furbishing the offense through his sheer feel and IQ that unlocked scoring opportunities not just for himself but also for the rest of the team.

When Shai came back in the following game against the Indiana Pacers, Giddey continued to roll with 21 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field, providing the second-most points for the Thunder in that game behind SGA.

Giddey has averaged 16.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists in the 12 games SGA have missed so far this season. His numbers were not as eye-popping as Gilgeous-Alexander’s but the 20-year-old sophomore’s performances should be an indicator of what is to expect from him with the ball in his hands more.

Jalen Williams

Rookie Jalen Williams has put the NBA by storm with an amazing stretch of games since March. He has normed 20 points and six rebounds in the past 15 games with his highest point production coming against the Hornets last week when he racked up 31 points.

In that stretch, J-Dub has put up an astounding 66.2 true shooting percentage, attesting to his efficiency and why he has been a constant contributor on offense for the Thunder.

It is easy to also consider him as the second option on the scoring end for the team. Williams’ innate tools — his physical gifts and athleticism — allowed him to circumvent defenses for his downhill drives akin to what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been doing for the Thunder.

Williams put up 27 points versus the Pistons last Wednesday, including the game-winning putback. IIn that game, he shot 11-of-19 from the field. Against the Pacers, his output fell to just 14 points with six rebounds and six assists.

Inconsistencies are ubiquitous on rookies, but Jalen Williams’ game proves his reliability on offense can still hold its value, especially when Shai and the team’s main guns sit.

The rest of the roster

Isaiah Joe posted 33 points against the Hornets, but dipped his numbers in the ensuing game versus the Pistons with just 12 before nose diving further to just seven points in SGA’s return versus the Pacers, where Joe shot 0-of-8 from deep.

His last two games saw Joe missing all 15 of his threes after being an incredible 44 percent three-point shooter prior to the two matchups. While he remains in a slump, the threat of Isaiah Joe should still lurk in the final stretch of the season.

Lu Dort and Aaron Wiggins have also chimed in on the OKC Thunder offensive bash. Dort has scored 12 points or above in the past five games, albeit on a pretty wonky 36 percent clip. Wiggins, meanwhile, has been huge in the team’s last two games with productions of 19 and 12 points respectively. Their services — not just on the offensive end — should be essential in the Thunder’s playoff hopes.

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