The OKC Thunder have built one of the best young cores in the entire NBA. The Oklahoma City Thunder made a 16-win improvement a year ago, good enough to earn them a play-in tournament bid and build a ton of excitement for this upcoming season.
Part of that excitement is due to the Thunder adding two top-ten picks, a two-time EuroLeague MVP, and another year of growth for their young core. While getting the 2nd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft back in Chet Holmgren this year, there is another top ten rookie OKC Thunder fans should not sleep on.
The OKC Thunder have seen Cason Wallace earn a ton of hype from his teammates as Kenrich Williams calls his shot again.
A year ago, Kenrich Williams proclaimed that then-rookie Jalen Williams had “All-Star potential.” At the time, that was a bold prediction; even for the 12th overall pick, the Santa Clara product was widely unknown, and while we beat the drum for him, hearing it from a player in the NBA was different.
This Training Camp, I asked Kenrich Williams if he had any opinions on Cason Wallace in an attempt to call his shot again, and Williams did not hesitate to do so.
The Oklahoma City Thunder veteran exclaimed that we should buy stock in the tenth overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft. Cason Wallace was not only complimented by the veteran from TCU, but Wallace earned high praise from the entire roster, including the face of the franchise.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander even praised Cason Wallace, specifically using the phrase “He will be a guy that’s ready to play right away.” should excite OKC Thunder fans. Teammates are always the first to know which guys have it and which don’t.
The genuine excitement from the OKC Thunder roster on Cason Wallace should wake some Thunder fans up to how important he might be this season. It is easy to get swept up in the core four and then rattle off a bunch of lovely rotation pieces on a young team this deep with talent. However, it is important to remember Wallace is part of a core group of players not only drafted in the lottery but in the top ten.
Wallace is just the third player on this Thunder team (Excluding Victor Oladipo, who will not report to the team) who was selected in the top ten. He joins just Josh Giddey and Chet Holmgren. In Sam Presti’s history inside that top ten, he has a nearly unblemished record.
Cason Wallace fits the OKC Thunder mold as a player who can play on the ball, play off the ball, and walk into the NBA as a highly versatile defender. In the first 21 of his 32 games, Cason Wallace shot 40 percent from beyond the arc, showing great flashes.
Mark Daigneault gave Cason Wallace a ton of credit for seeming wise beyond his years. The Oklahoma City Thunder have also credited Wallace for being “Tough,” as Lu Dort describes. Chet Holmgren calls Cason Wallace’s defense “amazing.”
The reviews are in, and the opinions are high of Cason Wallace. Given Presti’s track record in the top ten and the belief in Kentucky guards, Wallace is on the right path for a successful NBA career.
How his role will be defined is yet to be seen. It could include him seeing NBA minutes right out of the gate, it could feature a few G League stints to learn from an elite defensive head coach in Kameron Woods, but it will eventually end in Cason Wallace making a significant impact on the OKC Thunder.