The OKC Thunder made a statement in their season-opening win over the Chicago Bulls. Beating down the Bulls by 20 points, causing a players-only meeting afterward, which is never a good sign. As the OKC Thunder starts 1-0, one of the most impressive aspects of this Bulls beat down was what their top-ten pick was able to pull off.
No, Not Chet Holmgren, though he played a bit better than he is getting credit for, but instead Cason Wallace. The OKC Thunder climbed the ladder, trading up two spots to acquire Wallace 10th overall in the 2023 NBA Draft. They delivered the Dallas Mavericks Dereck Lively II with the 12th overall pick, and allowed Dallas to get off the Davis Bertans contract.
OKC Thunder nails another top-ten pick after Cason Wallace’s stellar debut against Chicago.
While many poke fun at Sam Presti for his mountain of future draft picks, a known fact about Presti is that he simply does not miss in the top ten of Drafts. In fact, more often than not, his selections in that range are All-time players.
That is not to say Cason Wallace will join the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, but he is certainly off to a great start to his NBA career.
The Kentucky guard was questioned by many, given the perceived surplus of guards on the OKC Thunder roster. However, it became clear extremely early that Sam Presti made the right choice.
As Mark Daigneault and players alike raved about Cason Wallace throughout training camp, there was still a question of how much burn he would get in the regular season. In game one, Cason Wallace played an impactful 19 minutes and was part of the lineup that allowed the Thunder to run away from the Bulls.
Cason Wallace showed impressive range and recovery speed on the defensive end of the floor. His length and defensive savvy immediately showed up as he rose up to contest taller players and fit into the switch-heavy Thunder scheme.
On Offense, Wallace provided a steady hand as a playmaker but made a lot of noise off the ball. Cashing in a trio of catch-and-shoot triples and going 5-for-5 overall on that end of the floor, including a crafty off-the-dribble jumper at the nail.
While Cason Wallace is not going to shoot 100 percent for his entire rookie season, and it is just one game of 82, it is clear Wallace can handle the pace of the NBA. Wallace will fit into this crowded Mark Daigneault rotation with his defensive chops and the role he can play on offense as this plus-shooter with outstanding for his size rim scoring.
Once again, it appears Sam Presti has nailed a top-ten pick on a switchable high-level 3-and-D player.