Yeah, the OKC Thunder tried to make Paul Watson happen…it did not.
It was puzzling when sources told me that Josh Hall was released to make way for Paul Watson. By the time Watson landed in Oklahoma City, he was 27 years old, and while he had some glimpses of being a solid rotational piece for the Toronto Reports, his ceiling was not as high as Josh Hall’s, who, if you were in charge of making this list might end up on yours!
It seemed like the only move that felt like Sam Presti zagged against his own zig, dumping a 21-year-old uber athlete who needed more reps as he was limited in his rookie season with a knee injury and a former five-star recruit. However, the more you dig into it, the more it makes sense (and does not matter).
You could assume the thought process for Presti was, ‘Who has the better shot to be an actual NBA player? Someone who has played a meaningful role in this league? Or a high flyer that shot 30 percent inside the arc?’ and so Presti took a chance on a Paul Watson 3-and-D type player who had it worked and was still young enough to fit into Mark Daigneault’s rotation for the next two or so years.
It did not work. Paul Watson never rekindled his shooting stroke that peaked at 45 percent across 27 games for the Raptors the year prior. Watson only shot 23 percent from three-point land in Oklahoma City on three attempts a night. Falling off from the perimeter rendered the veteran useless for what the Thunder wanted his role to be.
On February 10th, 2022, the OKC Thunder waived Paul Watson, and he has yet to re-sign with an NBA club. The now 28-year-old was a great professional who brought some maturity to the youngest team in NBA history, but ultimately, this is a business. His shooting falloff doomed his chance in Oklahoma City.
He and Josh Hall are prime examples of why Sam Presti cycled through so many players in those two years. Sure, most end up like the names on this list. However, it also birthed Kenrich Williams’ career. He finally got an elongated shot after being considered a “throw-in” to the Steven Adams trade and featured on everyone’s (including mine!) cut list ahead of his first season in Bricktown. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, but you must go diamond hunting.