Grading the OKC Thunder starters: Cason Wallace passes his first exam with flying colors.
The Oklahoma City Thunder traded into the top ten of the 2023 NBA Draft to grab the Kentucky guard. Due to the awkward trade rules in the NBA, Wallace was ineligible to play in Salt Lake City. With all the built-up anticipation, Wallace still dominated his debut and delighted the Thunder fanbase.
In this contest, Cason Wallace had 20 points, two rebounds, and three assists while swiping two steals and shooting 6-for-10 from beyond the arc. Wallace mainly played off the ball for Oklahoma City, giving the boys in blue an interesting catch-and-shoot option and unclogging things for Kam Woods’ offense.
While everyone touted his defense after the draft, Wallace lived up to the hype on that end. His offense made the grade as well. There is nothing more you could want to see from the Kentucky guard in this one. He showed he is a “pass the baton player,” someone who can help OKC maintain, or even grow, leads after the starters sit. A+.
The OKC Thunder have grown accustomed to great Summer League games from Tre Mann this summer, as he earned Salt Lake City MVP earlier this week. I can hear many of you screaming, “How is this game an A?” Well, you are right. It is not the eye-popping stat sheet Mann turned in throughout the Salt Lake City circuit, and that is partly why this game is an A.
The Florida product finished with 11 points, five assists, and two steals while shooting 50 percent from the floor, including 3-for-6 from distance. Surrounded by this talent, Mann did not need to be a star. He did not press the issue either. He played within the floor of the game, under control, and remained confident despite not leading the ship. Those are all qualities he needs to stick around in Bricktown when he joins the regular roster—another aced test for Mann.
Ousmane Dieng once again improved and continued to look more comfortable on the court which is the biggest battle for the second year forward. Dieng turned in 13 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal in this contest while shooting 3-for-7 from beyond the arc and 55 percent from the floor. Dieng shot the ball without hesitation and fixed a lot of the inactivity issues we have seen from him during his rookie season. Still, the 20-year-old has to continue to grow.
Jaylin Williams was just Jaylin Williams in this one, and that is a good thing. He has graduated from needing NBA Summer League. Williams was great at getting in position to defend shots or take charges, flashed the playmaking, worked the glass, and finished plays, including an exclamation point on a Holmgren outlet pass.
Many fans are concerned or complaining about the amount of time Holmgren spent in the corner on defense roaming. The Gonzaga product is set to be an elite rim protector and exceptional at defending the pick and roll, so why is he banished to the corner? I can promise you the OKC Thunder view the number two overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft as a center. However, what exactly do you want Kameron Woods to do? Bring Jaylin Williams off the bench for the likes of Tanner Groves? Let’s get serious. Williams has earned the right to start in this Summer League setting and has done just that. The Summer Thunder are also finding minutes for Holmgren to be the lone center on the court; in that time, he is thriving.
Against the Dereck Lively II-led Mavs, Holmgren posted 16 points, ten rebounds, three assists, a steal, and swatted away two shots while shooting 5-for-10 from the floor, connecting on one of his four three-point attempts.