3 Swing players for the OKC Thunder ahead of the 2023-24 season

Aleksej Pokusevski #17 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Aleksej Pokusevski #17 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Ousmane Dieng #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder could see Ousmane Dieng shine in year two after an impressive NBA Summer League stint. 

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Ousmane Dieng with the 11th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, part of their three lottery pick class, a selection that included dealing three future firsts for the right to the New Zealand Breaker. The now 20-year-old had an interesting rookie season as he played in 39 NBA games to the tune of five points, two rebounds, and an assist per game while shooting 42 percent from the floor, 26 percent from distance, and 65 percent at the charity stripe. Dieng turned in an impressive 73 percent at the rim and shot 30 percent on corner triples.

Ousmane Dieng suffered a wrist injury during his rookie season, around the time he was figuring some things out at the NBA level. Ultimately, that led to Dieng playing in 20 G-League contests averaging 15.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 stocks per game. Dieng shot 45 percent from the floor, 34 percent from three, and 60 percent at the free throw line.

That brought things to Summer League this past month, where Ousmane Dieng played in seven games to the tune of 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists a night with 1.8 stocks per game. This was some of his best basketball at any level, he looked confident on the offensive end shooting 35 percent from distance, 50 percent from the floor, and 77 percent from the free-throw line.

Dieng has always thrived on the defensive end of the floor, even flashing that potential in the NBA with a stellar possession on Steph Curry. That did not change in Summer League, he looked good on that end of the floor.

Though, the real positive change came on offense. He played with more “offensive force,” a buzz term that OKC Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault, and OKC Blue head coach Kameron Woods, often use when describing the forward. He was more willing to create his own shot, and mix it up on the offensive end, ran the floor well in transition, and cutting in the half-court set. The most jaw-dropping play had to be a step-back triple at the top of the key for Dieng. The Lottery forward shot 70 percent at the rim and 30 percent on the catch-and-shoot in Summer League.

If Ousmane Dieng is able to crack the rotation based on merit and solid play on both ends of the floor, it certainly swings things in a positive direction for the OKC Thunder during the 2023-24 NBA season. Having a 6’10 forward that can defend multiple possessions, cut off the ball, and ideally knock down triples is a massive advantage for this Thunder team driven by active ball-handlers.