The OKC Thunder need to see a larger sample size from Aleksej Pokusevski
The most interesting and intriguing player on the OKC Thunder’s roster this season is Aleksej Pokusevski. He remains a raw, unpolished seven-footer but offers mobility and skill as a big.
Aleksej Pokusevski’s role is unclear, and it is unsure if he will be able to play alongside skillful big Chet Holmgren.
Pokusevski flashed potential in his rookie season, which he followed with a quite underwhelming sophomore campaign.
Starting 25 games last season, Pokusevski was able to carve out a role in the rotation surprisingly, with increased shooting percentages, most notably from three. His rim protection became extremely valuable, as he swatted 1.3 blocks per game.
This upcoming season will indicate a lot of the OKC Thunder’s future plans with Pokusevski. If Holmgren is the long-term answer at the center, where can Pokusevski fit in? His height is still valuable for the OKC Thunder, and he may play as a back-up forward or as a thinner center with the ability to step out to the perimeter.
If he is pushed out of the rotation, is it likely the OKC Thunder will extend him? How much longer can the OKC Thunder wait for him to develop? Will he ever reach his full potential? Another poor season could leave the organization frustrated and impatient. There may be more questions generated than answers shown, and the OKC Thunder may choose to move on.
For Aleksej Pokusevski, the pathway to meaningful minutes is to duplicate his November output from a year ago. Taking the pressure off of himself to be a star and, instead, be a connecting piece for the Thunder bench unit. His rim protection and hopeful three-point shooting can allow Mark Daigneault’s squad to play their second unit close to their starting group’s style of play, with Pokusevski filling in for Holmgren.
The Oklahoma City Thunder believe in Aleksej Pokusevski, and things were trending in a highly positive direction before his season-altering injury in December. Still, he has to scale that forward to a larger sample size this season.