4 Thunder players who need monster second halves to save their job

Jaylin Williams and Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder
Jaylin Williams and Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages
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No. 3: Aleksej Pokusevski

When the Oklahoma City Thunder traded up to draft Aleksej Pokusevski in the 2020 NBA Draft, most draft evaluators praised Sam Presti for taking the big swing. Perhaps the raw-yet-talented seven-footer would put it all together and become the next Giannis Antetokounmpo. If he didn't, it was worth the swing as the Thunder entered a rebuild.

It's not Pokusevski's fault that the Thunder rebounded quickly into being a contender, but whatever the context he has failed to put the package together. He has moments of brilliance spaced out between missed defensive assignments, bad fouls and shots clunking off the rim. He is averaging just six minutes per game when he does see the court this season, just part of the mop-up crew in blowouts the ten times he has stepped onto the court.

The Thunder cannot afford to wait on him any longer; they need him to show he's putting it together or they will let him walk in restricted free agency this summer. If he can dominate the G League for two weeks, earn some rotation minutes and prove himself to the organization, perhaps he earns another year in OKC. Perhaps he earns a spot on another team.

Continued inconsistency, however, will mean this is his last year in the NBA.