OKC Thunder player grades vs Pacers: Chet Holmgren shows elite potential

Chet Holmgren #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images)
Chet Holmgren #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl #50 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Grading the OKC Thunder bench as the rookie shows a high impact.

B+. . F. Oklahoma City Thunder. KEYONTAE JOHNSON

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Keyontae Johnson with the 50th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The Kansas State product not only had one of the most interesting stories in the draft but was also one of the best value picks. While this game was not perfect, it did show the impact Johnson can have on the NBA.

Keyontae Johnson finished with 18 points on just nine shots, three rebounds, and a steal. His ability to get down him and finish strong over defenders is unmatched. It is impossible to knock Johnson off-balanced, and his control allows him to thrive. Tonight he flashed this unique fall-away mid-range jump shot ability that cashed in multiple times to keep the OKC Thunder offense flowing.

JEREMIAH ROBINSON-EARL. D-. . F. Oklahoma City Thunder

Put your pitchforks away; the only reason Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is not receiving an F tonight is the fact it was his first game back from another ankle injury. After sitting out the first five Summer League games, Robinson-Earl debuted off the bench to the tune of 23 minutes played. The Villanova product had a severe regression season during his Sophomore campaign, though it is safe to place the blame on his server ankle injury suffered in Dallas on December 12th.

The Thunder selecting Jaylin Williams just one draft class after Robinson-Earl certainly turned up the heat on the undersized big man. The two are pretty redundant players in the battle for minutes, and to this point, Williams has outplayed Robinson-Earl. With his price tag set at just 1.9 million dollars, and the Thunder needing to clear six roster spots, the 22-year-old is a prime candidate for the chopping block.

Tonight did not help sway that opinion as Robinson-Earl finished with just 7 points, a steal, and eight rebounds on 3-for-9 (33%) shooting from the floor. He struggled around the rim, especially on open looks or against smaller matchups.

While this is not the final verdict on Robinson-Earl, it certainly was not a strong case to present to the jury. I still believe Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will have a long, successful NBA career as a rotational player. But the training camp battle to allow that to happen in Bricktown will be fierce.

B. . F. Oklahoma City Thunder. CALEB MCCONNELL

Caleb McConnell played 13 minutes for Kameron Woods’ squad tonight, and in that time, he made an epic defense impact while staying out of the way on offense. Within a shot attempt, McConnell compiled four rebounds and two assists. His ability to disrupt and impact things on the defensive end of the floor pops off the screen.

McConnell will make things interesting for the Oklahoma City Thunder as Sam Presti tries to decide what to do with the two remaining two-way slots to give away. Jared Butler, Caleb McConnell, KJ Williams, and others remain in contention for a two-way bid.

Up next, the OKC Thunder will battle the Washington Wizards on Friday evening at 4:30 Central Time on NBATV.

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