OKC Thunder rookie bought into his role with the team

Head coach Mark Daigneault of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)
Head coach Mark Daigneault of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder are building one of the best young cores in the entire NBA, and this offseason, they added another top-ten pick. The Oklahoma City Thunder traded up the NBA Draft board from the 12th overall pick to grab Cason Wallace at pick ten. The Kentucky guard was met with some hot and cold criticism due to the perceived gluttony of guards on the Thunder roster. While that narrative is lazy, the fit and opportunity for Wallace will be interesting to monitor.

As a Wildcat, the Dallas native was asked to do a multitude of things on the offensive end of the floor. He spent spurts of the season playing as the lead ball handler with a revolving door of supporting cast members. Wallace also spent time away from the ball on that end of the floor, cashing in catch-and-shoot looks and taking advantage of his relocation skills.

The OKC Thunder have seen their rookie buy into the system early in his time with the organization.

Cason Wallace stands at 6’4, 193 pounds, and many fans wonder how he will fit into Mark Daigneault’s guard rotation during his rookie season. The plus side for the Kentucky product will be the fact that he is so versatile, provides a ton of value on defense, and has shown flashes of being a plus-shooter. Though, which role does he prefer to fill in the NBA?

When asked if he prefers to play with the ball in his hands or away from it, Cason Wallace said, “It doesn’t matter to me; the way the NBA is today, you are not going to have the ball the whole possession more than likely. We have a lot of great players on this team that can create for themselves, they can also create for others.”

While this is a diplomatic answer, it is also a truthful one. Wallace displayed that same level of selflessness as Kentucky’s best player this past season. As the OKC Thunder participated in NBA Summer League earlier this month, you could see the balance of on-ball creation and off-ball play-finishing for the tenth overall pick.

Cason Wallace was wildly impressive during his NBA Summer League debut as head coach Kameron Woods put him in positions that Mark Daigneault will once the regular season rolls around.

While he gets praised for his defense, rightfully so, as he displays an ability to track and stay in front of matchups while hunting down steals like a defensive back Hawks interceptions, Wallace’s offense can really help turn the tide for the OKC Thunder.

From November through January, a 21-game sample size, Wallace knocked down 40 percent of his triples on four attempts a night for the Wildcats. The guard shot 64 percent at the rim, 35 percent on catch-and-shoot looks, 46 percent working off handoffs (an area he will thrive in alongside Jaylin Williams), and navigated the pick-and-roll to the tune of 0.850 points per possession, a very good clip in the SEC.

With the floor spacing that Cason Wallace provides, along with bringing an additional ball handler to the secondary unit to keep the bench mob in flow, the Thunder could maintain or even build leads while their starters rest with the addition of Wallace in the draft.

Next. 3 swing players for the OKC Thunder in the 2023-24 NBA season. dark