OKC Thunder bring back change of pace big man

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 have seen a ton of roster turnover this off-season. The majority of this Summer has been spent with the maximum 21 players allowed, with just hours spent below that line. Monday was no different.

Asthe team announced they waived project big man Usman Garuba, the Oklahoma City Thunder revealed hours later they filled their third and final two-way slot on a familiar face in Olivier Sarr. The OKC Thunder roster is now back at 21 names ahead of training camp, but they have made progress toward the regular season.

By ousting TyTy Washington, Rudy Gay, and Usman Garuba, the Thunder only need to axe three more standard contracts to be in roster compliance for the season opener. Though, with the maximum amount of players carried, the team had to make the early call on this trio to shuffle in these two-way signings.

The rest of the roster crunch will likely linger into training camp, as most teams, including the OKC Thunder, prefer to have a chock-full roster entering camp to make the extra practices and preseason tilts manageable for their regulars.

OKC Thunder ink Olivier Sarr to another two-way deal, giving Mark Daigneault another matchup nightmare.

The Kentucky big man is now a familiar face in Bricktown, mostly known for his season finale against Memphis this past season, where he logged 42 minutes, turning in 22 points, 15 rebounds, an assist, and a steal while missing just five shots.

While many, including myself, were enthralled with new names at Summer League, mostly Rutgers defensive ace Caleb McConnell, the OKC Thunder elected to go with a more familiar name in Sarr. What is the advantage of inking the seven-footer to another two-way deal? It gives Mark Daigneault another matchup nightmare.

I know what you are thinking; how on earth is a 24-year-old big man who has played 31 career NBA games to the tune of six points, four rebounds, and 55 percent shooting from the floor in mainly garbage time a matchup nightmare? It is not necessary about Sarr himself, but instead, what he represents.

While Olivier Sarr is not scared of popping a three-pointer, especially at the G League Level, his seven-foot 237-pound frame makes him more of a “traditional big man” than anyone on the current Thunder roster.

The OKC Thunder have an incredibly deep team with a head coach who is not scared to go 10-12 names deep in a single game. As opposing teams prepare to take on the Thunder, they will mainly focus on this newfound position-less style and try to hammer home the minutes they play without a traditional big man. While that style of play will look a little different with Chet Holmgren in the mix, Holmgren will allow the Thunder to play fast and thrive in a five-out offense.

Enter Olivier Sarr, who can give Mark Daigneault yet another look to throw at opponents and, even if just for five minutes, change the outlook of a game. Something the Thunder did in one of their most thrilling regular season wins of this past year against the Clippers.

In a game the OKC Thunder won by just one point, Olivier Sarr logged 19 minutes, hauling in six rebounds, two assists, and swatting away two shots with four points to boot.

Given the depth and expectation this OKC Thunder team owns, the likelihood of relying on a two-way pact player is slim, so using these slots on high-quality G League players who can help the varsity club in a pitch or offer a different look than what is currently on the roster is a smart decision by the organization.

Sarr’s ability to space the floor, but more importantly, roll to the rim at the G League level will help internally develop some important pieces on this Thunder roster when sent down to the OKC Blue.

Next. Should the OKC Thunder target Joel Embiid?. dark