The Oklahoma City Thunder started their season with a bang! A 20-point road win over the Chicago Bulls in the season opener on Wednesday has Bricktown buzzing with excitement. However, despite the dominating win, the contest was not without controversy. As the sugar rush of an impressive performance wears off, fans are questioning why Vasilije Micic did not log a minute against the Bulls.
After multiple summers of the OKC Thunder flirting with Vasilije Micic, the point guard finally made the NBA jump back in July. The two-time EuroLeague MVP and Champion was ready to test out the NBA, and he committed to a multi-year pact with the OKC Thunder. The Thunder traded for his draft rights while acquiring Al Horford from Philadelphia in 2020.
Why didn’t Vasilije Micic play a single minute for the OKC Thunder in their season-opening win?
Despite the previous Summer rumors of possible minutes demands and even reports he would command a starting spot stateside, I was told Micic “Knows what he signed up for.” That messaging jives with what Micic said himself on Media Day; he echoed that he did not ask the Thunder for a promise on a specific role and was ready to go earn his minutes in the NBA.
When I asked him why the timing was right this Summer vs. the previous offseason, Vasilije Micic mentioned it was a “common desire” that led the 29-year-old to feel comfortable inking a three-year 25.3-million dollar contract with the OKC Thunder.
So, with his EuroLeague prowess and preseason playmaking, why didn’t Vasilije Micic log a single minute for Mark Daigneault’s squad, who was down two of their best bench weapons?
Vasilije Micic has been very transparent about his struggles adjusting to the NBA, from the pace and space that the League presents to the subtle nuances in picking up a more iso-style defensive league. In the EuroLeague, without the three-second violation, Micic explained that it was easy to always have help on defense.
With a wider court, faster play, and the lack of a constant defensive anchor, there is a steep learning curve on the end of the floor, most important to Mark Daigneault.
On top of just 40 NBA preseason possessions under his belt, Vasilije Micic dealt with a shoulder injury way back in early August. While I do not think that is having a dramatic impact on things, it is important to have all the context before getting up in arms about Micic not logging a minute in the Windy City.
So what gives? Why wasn’t Vasilije Micic in the rotation for Mark Daigneault on opening night? It goes back to what I was told in July: “He knows what he signed up for.”
This is life on a Mark Daigneault. Vasilije Micic is prepared for it. Some nights, you will not play; other nights, you will be a heavy focus in the rotation, playing bulk minutes and helping the OKC Thunder win basketball games.
You mix the typical handling of players with Vasilije Micic still learning to adjust to the NBA, and you get a receipt for a DNP-CD on opening night for Micic. However, it is important to remember it is just one (1) game.
For all we know, Vasilije Micic could play 20 minutes tonight in Cleveland against the Cavs in the Thunder’s second game of the season.
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