Grading the OKC Thunder Starters vs. Washington Wizards
The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Keyontae Johnson 50th overall in the 2023 NBA Draft, and the Kansas State product has looked excellent in Vegas during NBA Summer League. Johnson has shown his elite athleticism throughout his Summer League, and tonight was no different. He finished with nine points, six rebounds, and an assist. Johnson’s most encouraging aspect of this game was his ability to knock down a difficult three-pointer while also working inside and playing bigger than he is.
The OKC Thunder could not be happier with how 2022 Lottery Pick Ousmane Dieng looked this summer. Dieng has shown incredible confidence, aggression, and overall offensive force that the Thunder have longed to see from the 11th overall pick in last year’s draft.
Tonight, Ousmane Dieng turned in 17 points, five assists, and five rebounds, with a steal and a block to go along with 41/42/100 shooting splits. Not only was Dieng playing with incredible force, instead of just floating around the court as we saw the majority of the time during his rookie season, but the confidence was unshakable. Tonight was still a good shooting split for Dieng, but it was not some otherworldly shooting night that we had been seeing. Dieng has turned in games with one or two misses this past week, and in contests like that, it is easy to keep shooting! The important improvement from the former New Zealand Breaker in this game was the fact even after a few misses in a row; he still played the same way.
KJ Williams has sometimes flashed for the Summer Thunder as he is trying to earn a two-way spot somewhere in the NBA. In this game, Williams was relatively quiet, with just seven points and as many boards to go along with a steal and a block in 19 minutes. Williams never makes the loud plays, but he is more often than not making the right plays. That is a skill that can earn the trust of NBA coaches quickly. The one thing Williams, who sets good screens, has to improve on is his hands. Bobbling away pick-and-roll positions will not bode well for him. Overall, Williams has had an impressive Summer, and if nothing else, can be one of the best bigs in the G-League.
Jared Butler was placed on a two-way contract with the OKC Thunder midway through last season and played well. The organization likes Butler, who is now a free agent, and he continues to mesh well with Kameron Woods, who is coaching the Summer Thunder as part of his bench boss duties for the OKC Blue.
Butler continues to impress this summer as he turned in 22 points, three rebounds, four assists, and just one turnover in 23 minutes of action while making 57 percent of his shots, including 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. The Baylor product has done a great job of looking the part of a two-way guard during the NBA Summer League. Though, the competition for a two-way spot in Bricktown is fierce.
The OKC Thunder finally got to see their top-ten pick, Cason Wallace, step on the hardwood in Vegas after an awkward transactional rule with the NBA, and he has not disappointed. His debut stole plenty of headlines as he blitzed the nets and showed how valuable he can be.
Wallace continued to show how he will quickly resonate with Thunder fans in this contest. The Kentucky guard spent a ton of time on the floor diving for loose balls and creating possessions for Oklahoma City. For a top-ten pick to put his body on the line like that in the second-to-last Summer League tilt shows the motor and effort, you will get throughout the 82-game season from Wallace.
One play, in particular, stood out; just moments before the first half ended, Wallace poked the ball out and dove to create a loose-ball-foul which sent him to the charity stripe. That is where the rookie guard makes this just a two-possession game entering the break. That “minor” swing adds up to win games in the long run.
Cason Wallace finished with 10 points, two steals, two assists, and a rebound while shooting 2-for-4 from beyond the arc.