The Oklahoma City Thunder have used Keyontae Johnson in a developmental role with the G League squad. The 50th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft has dominated his time with the OKC Blue and is beating down the opportunity for more NBA action.
Johnson has been parked with the Blue since the Thunder's home opener against Denver, and in that span, he is averaging 18 points, seven rebounds, an assist, a steal, and nearly a block per contest down on the farm. In 21 games played, the Kansas State product is shooting 53 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three-point land, and 80 percent at the charity stripe.
OKC Thunder rookie Keyontae Johnson scored his first NBA points in an unusual way.
This has been a busy week for the rookie swingman who played in the OKC Blue back-to-back against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, he was called up for his first NBA action since October. Mark Daigneault explained that decision.
In the Thunder's blowout win over Portland, Keyontae Johnson earned 17 minutes, which was "more than we planned for," according to Mark Daigneault, with Johnson playing his third game in as many days. The 50th overall pick chipped in four points, three rebounds, and two assists against Portland.
His first NBA bucket was a baseline floater on a pass from his Florida Gators teammate Tre Mann, as Johnson shows his ability to attack off the catch and get to his spot.
In the NBA G League, Keyontae Johnson is shooting 63 percent at the rim, 41 percent on catch-and-shoot looks, and producing 1.250 on transition chances. His ability to clean up the glass, especially on the offensive end, for second chance points.
So far, the Thunder are off to a fantastic start, turning in a 26-11 record, which ties them for the top spot in the Western Conference. Despite this rip-roaring start, the Thunder are going to need to dig deeper into their rotation throughout this month of January which is littered with back-to-backs, travel, and wall-to-wall action.
Keyontae Johnson is fighting for the right to more NBA minutes, and he might win in a knockout. With the way he has played in the G League, his time should be coming soon.
You always remember your first NBA bucket, but when it comes in a rare back-to-back-to-back set, it is even more special.