Lindy Waters III entered the 2022-23 season on a two-way contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. By the end of the season,Waters III was on a full NBA contract and had found his way into a fringe rotational role.
After the Thunder converted him to a standard contract on February 27, he played at least 15 minutes in ten of the final 22 games. The Oklahoma State product was a solid defensive player and a smart floor spacer this season.
Lindy Waters III made important strides in his second season with the OKC Thunder.
Waters took 91 percent of his shots from beyond the arc this season, shooting roughly league average from three. Thunder teammates assisted Waters on 93 percent of his attempts from deep, making him a valuable off-ball weapon for the squad throughout the season.
Known for his sharpshooting while at Oklahoma State, Waters has struggled to live up to that expectation in his time in the NBA. However, he has been especially dangerous from the corner.
Lindy Waters III made half of his looks from the corner this season. Though less than a fifth of his attempts came from the corner this season, so increasing the volume of those looks should be a priority in the future.
Waters’s impact as a 3-and-D player was undeniable, as the Thunder’s net rating improved by more than 10 points when he was on the floor. Although his results throughout the season were clearly positive, Waters struggled with consistency.
Part of his inability to make the same impact from game to game was his constantly changing minutes. Waters was incredibly streaky and often missed shots that the typical NBA sharpshooter would hit.
Still, outside of missing shots, Waters is a competent and skilled player who can avoid making mistakes. He had the lowest turnover rate on the Thunder this season. He talked about the growth in his mentality on the floor during his exit interview.
“I think mentally just coming out and being able to compete every single day no matter what the circumstances are,” Waters said. “Whether we’re winning, losing, whether the body feels 100% healthy. If I’m out there just mentally being prepared to give everything I’ve got.”
Of course, not being on a standard contract until late February meant Waters spent some time in the G-League. In 23 games with the Blue, Waters averaged 15 points and a steal in 34 minutes.
Waters had his best game of the year in Phoenix when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams were out. The Thunder lost big, but the undrafted wing put up 23 points and nailed six threes, both season-highs.
Occasional outputs like that could keep Waters in the league for many years. There is a lot of uncertainty about Waters’s future in OKC, but it may be worthwhile for the Thunder to see if he can improve his three-point shooting.
The potential of having a knockdown shooter who can hold his own defensively may be enough to keep him around for at least one more season.
Season grade: C+
Lindy Waters III did not always make the most of his minutes this season, but he did make the most of his opportunity by getting his two-way converted to a standard contract. He impressed enough to at least see the floor in both of OKC’s play-in games.
Time will tell if Waters did enough to extend his time with the Thunder, but his 2023 campaign was something to be proud of.