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
Cason Wallace #22 and Keyontae Johnson #18 of the Oklahoma State Thunder (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder could go small and lean on rookies without Aleksej Pokusevski available.

Everyone loves a good BOGO sale, so I will give you a two-for-one on the three players to step up without Aleksej Pokusevski and discuss both rookies.

Keyontae Johnson was selected 50th overall by the OKC Thunder back in July, and he flashed some juice at the NBA Summer League as a small ball forward for Mark Daigneault’s club. Johnson is on a two-way pact, and we all know the Thunder are not scared to put those players on the floor to find diamonds in the rough.

I expect Keyontae Johnson to get a lot of run in the NBA preseason as the Thunder navigate an interesting slate with some abnormal travel. Still, the actual regular season run might come from his rookie counterpart.

Enter Cason Wallace, who Sam Presti was so convinced in he traded up two spots by taking on an awful contract to acquire. That is good news for Wallace; not only does the organization believe in him, but Presti rarely, if ever, misses inside the top ten. Oh yeah, and he is a Kentucky guard; what could go wrong? It is all turning up Wallace!

Throughout this Summer, OKC Thunder fans have been scrambling to find out how Mark Daigneault will flip through the Rolodex of players on this roster and find minutes for each player. Without Aleksej Pokusevski sidelined to start the season, it opens up a spot on most nights. This organization still believes in Pokusevski, rightfully so after his stretch last year.

This can open the door to more Cason Wallace action by playing “small” and having him share the floor with Vasilije Micic, Isaiah Joe, Aaron Wiggins, and a Williams (Kenrich or Jaylin); that is a pretty, pretty, pretty good bench mob for this young Thunder team.

These rookies have an added edge entering training camp with minutes up for grabs. Can either step up and grab hold of a rotational spot as Mark Daigneault explores the roster yet again?