Mark Daigneault makes interesting cross-sport comparison for Rookie

Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder made another draft day trade back in June, a streak that Sam Presti has kept alive since the 2019 NBA Draft. The Thunder went out and got Cason Wallace with the tenth overall pick, climbing two spots and taking on Davis Bertans’ contract to do so.

With a 6’4 guard frame, some Thunder fans questioned why Oklahoma City selected another guard in the 2023 NBA Draft given their current roster. While OKC embraces positional versatility as an organization, the reason for choosing the Kentucky product goes far deeper than just his position.

For the first 21 games of Kentucky’s season, Cason Wallace stroked the three-ball at a 40 percent clip; he was able to thrive on and off the ball, even as his supporting cast at Kentucky was constantly changing. Even Wallace himself dealt with injuries, as many assume back spasms were the cause of his late-season shooting dip.

Wallace was able to dominate at the rim, finishing over, around, and through defenders while providing some great pick-and-roll navigation skills for UK. Couple that with the recent trend of Kentucky guards popping in the NBA, and you get a pretty nice recipe for success in Oklahoma City, one of the best developmental organizations in the NBA…and we have not even touched on his best skillset yet.

OKC Thunder bench boss Mark Daigneault makes an interesting cross-sport comparison for rookie guard Cason Wallace.

After trading up for Cason Wallace and selecting Keyontae Johnson 50th overall in the 2023 NBA Draft, the OKC Thunder made the prospects, as well as Sam Presti and Mark Daigneault, available to those of us in the media. It was there that the Oklahoma City Thunder bench boss made an eyebrow-raising cross-sport comparison.

As Mark Daigneault gives a glowing review of how Cason Wallace fits within this OKC Thunder organization and why he was their pick just days prior, he made a cross-sport comparison that stunned the local media. Daigneault dusted off his Football Almanac and compared the Kentucky guard to ball-hawking Hall of Famer Ed Reed.

The nine-time pro-bowler, former defensive player of the year, and Super Bowl Champion scored seven touchdowns in his NFL career, hauling in 64 interceptions during his time in the NBA split between the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and New York Jets. He had a unique knack for ball-hawking and terrorizing opposing quarterbacks.

Cason Wallace averaged two steals per game at the University of Kentucky, totaling 63 as a Wildcat. During the NBA Summer League, Wallace averaged 1.4 steals per game, showing his ability to translate his swiping ability to the next level.

While his floor-spacing and playmaking will be an added plus, his defensive profile makes this selection even more impactful. Cason Wallace provides the Thunder with lineup versatility and allows Mark Daigneault to have a high-end defensive stopper on the floor at all times.

Wallace displays an unbelievable ability to track the ball. From breaking up, lob plays like a defensive back swatting away a jump ball to disrupting drivers with a side swipe on the way to the rim to either force a turnover or at least a bobble ending the clear lane to the rim, his quick hands to make up for being switched onto bigger players and the incredible pace he plays with to stay step-for-step with every type of player.

Cason Wallace getting the benefit of playing with one of the league’s top defenders, as well as one of the best defensive coaching staffs in the league, increases his ceiling on that end of the floor.

With the way Cason Wallace fights through screens, dives for loose balls, and plays under control on the offensive end of the floor, he will instantly be a fan favorite in Bricktown.

Next. OKC Thunder rookie bought into his role. dark