Grading the OKC Thunder bench: TyTy Washington might be able to force the hand of the organization.
An A?! How? That is likely what you are screaming at your device right now, considering TyTy Washington only produced four points, two assists and missed three of his five shots in 19 minutes during his OKC Thunder debut.
The impact that TyTy Washington had in his Thunder debut goes beyond the box score. It was announced just hours before tip-off that Washington had been added to the OKC Thunder Summer roster, and he would be switching his number from 0 to 28 (luckily, there is no P.J. Dozier situation this time around).
The playmaking that TyTy Washington brought to the table was immediately noticeable, even when his teammates let him down. On Washington’s first play of the game, he was directing traffic off-ball and signaling who the open man was and how to feed him the ball for an open Thunder triple. The way he committed hard downhill sucked the defense in and allowed him to spray the ball out to open teammates who missed the open jumper on multiple occasions. His organizational skills helped the offense get into a groove with his hockey assists and spacing.
Overall, this was a fantastic debut from TyTy Washington and showed the mentality of the Sophomore guard. He has been traded twice in as many weeks and could have remained sidelined for the final two games of the Summer as a wasted developmental point. Instead, Washington wanted to play, and he certainly impressed.
However, this will still be an uphill climb for TyTy Washington to make the OKC Thunder regular-season roster as Sam Presti has to move on from six standard contract players currently on the roster. Washington is one of the easiest to let go, financially and investment-wise. Though, it is clear the Kentucky guard will not roll over. A fantastic Summer and a great training camp could force the hand of the Thunder to keep him around.
Jaden Shackelford is fearless when shooting the ball, which is not always a compliment. The Thunder used his 12 points off the bench to extend the competitive window of this contest, but ultimately it was not enough. The issue with Shackelford is that the book is out on him. He is a streaky shooter who tonight went 4-for-8 from distance but struggles to score inside the arc and can not defend at an NBA level.
Well, Tanner Groves played! The former Oklahoma Sooner earned his first 12 minutes of Summer League action in the second-to-last contest in Vegas, and he was…Tanner Groves. He missed a layup, went 0-for-1 from beyond the arc, and bobbled away a fantastic Pick-and-Roll pass. Groves’s night was finished with two points, one assist, a steal, a block, three fouls, and six rebounds.
Tanner Groves has zero chance of landing an NBA pact or even a two-way look, but he brings enough size and skill to carve out a good G-League or overseas career if he elects to go that route. Sunday’s Summer League finale could be Groves-heavy, so be ready.
Hunter Maldonado was active and involved in a ton of the chaos of this game but ultimately only produced six points, seven rebounds, and four assists while going 0-for-3 from beyond the arc and 3-for-5 inside of it. The forever Wyoming Cowboy is another name that could be a threat for a two-way pact. Though likely not right out of the gate. Maldonado still needs to do more to earn a spot like that, but he could quickly do so with a solid start to his NBA G-League career.
Note: Caleb McConnell played in five minutes, immediately showing his defensive chops, but he left this game with concussion-like symptoms.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play their final Summer League game on Sunday, July 16th, at 6:30 CT on NBATV. Check back for game coverage of the last OKC Thunder on-court action until October.