Grading the OKC Thunder starters against the Sacramento Kings
The Thunder may have fallen, but Gilgeous-Alexander still had a solid outing. With his third straight 30-point game, Gilgeous-Alexander led the tournament in scoring with 33, but that was not his only contribution.
While his scoring kept the Thunder afloat for much of the night, Gilgeous-Alexander was also active on the glass and setting up his teammates. The superstar had seven rebounds and six assists.
The problem for the Thunder is that he led the team in both categories. Although the franchise is familiar with having the point guard lead the team in all those stats, it is troubling when Gilgeous-Alexander is not the one who typically does that.
Still, it is no fault that he outperformed his teammates. On the other side of the ball, he added two steals and two blocks to nearly lead Oklahoma City in all five significant stats.
It has not been an excellent season for Josh Giddey, and his struggles continued against Sacramento. Giddey looked out of sorts in spots throughout the night and never quite got his rhythm.
But Giddey did have a solid night scoring the ball, as he finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting. However, only one trip to the free-throw line is a troubling development after it looked like he turned a corner there in the offseason.
His lack of rhythm contributed to his assist-turnover ratio 5-to-4 against the Kings. Giddey played just 26 minutes as someone who entered the season in discussions of the Thunder’s second-best player, who has nearly fallen out of those talks in just two weeks.
Luguentz Dort’s spectacular start to the season had a slight dip in Sacramento, but his impact was apparent. Defensively, Dort and the Thunder struggled to contain Kevin Huerter from the start.
But Dort still ended with three steals and a block. At times, he was a bit overzealous on that end.
While that is much of his game, it did lead to some fouls and left him out of position. On the other end, Dort continued his hot shooting in Sacramento.
The Arizona State product hit two of his three attempts from 3-point range and nailed both of his free throws.
Jalen Williams had a rough night, but a few late buckets helped salvage his grade. Williams got inside for two layups as the Thunder tried to make a frantic comeback in the final minutes.
Before that, he had not made a field goal since the first minute of the second quarter. Oklahoma City could not afford to disappear from the scoreboard for that long.
He ended with a pedestrian line of 14 points and five rebounds, which is well below his potential. In a game where Giddey and Chet Holmgren also had rather ordinary plays, the Rookie of the Year runner-up has to perform better.
Rookies will have challenging games, and this was one of those for Chet Holmgren. Playing against last season’s rebounding leader in a physical battle went predictably for the rookie.
Sabonis’ size bothered Holmgren early and set him up for a triple-double. But Holmgren responded and held Sabonis to only three second-half points without a made field goal.
However, the first quarter, when Sabonis put up 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists, led to a deficit that could not be overcome. Holmgren still ended with 12 points and seven rebounds in a game he would probably rather forget.
Holmgren’s four turnovers, inability to hit from outside, and a missed clutch free throw stood out as places to improve.