3 OKC Thunder players who can step up in Aleksej Pokusevski’s absence

Ousmane Dieng #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Ousmane Dieng #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Ousmane Dieng #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Ousmane Dieng can step up for the OKC Thunder in a major way with Aleksej Pokusevski out.

The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Ousmane Dieng 11th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, trading three first-round picks to secure their third lottery pick of the night. His rookie season was a bit of a rollercoaster.

In the Summer League, Dieng suffered a wrist injury that held him out for weeks; as his regular season progressed, Dieng dealt with another wrist injury (unrelated) as he was playing his best basketball, and throughout his time, he gained valuable G-League experience that went relatively unnoticed given the success of the varsity club.

Throughout the season, Ousmane Dieng had flashes of being a premier defender on the perimeter who can switch at all three levels and stick with fast-twitch ball handlers. The highlight of his defensive prowess was locking up Steph Curry for a possession to flaunt his potential.

On the offensive end, the 6’11 wing is an extremely capable playmaker who dominated at the rim, shooting 73 percent at the rim, ranking himself 86th percentile for his position. In the G-League, Dieng shot 39 percent on catch-and-shoot looks. Dieng produces over a point per possession as a cutter, an extremely good clip for the young forward.

Defensively, Ousmane Dieng dominated in isolation, but at the NBA level, he played in just 39 games, averaging 14 minutes per contest to go along with five points, two rebounds, and an assist per tilt.

The 20-year-old has had a great summer by all accounts, and he could take advantage of the early season run in Mark Daigneault’s rotation in the absence of Aleksej Pokusevski.