3 under-the-radar players that could kill the Thunder during postseason

Jan 20, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) looks to pass
Jan 20, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) looks to pass / Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
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Herb Jones

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s offensive game is built on creating space via drives. He accomplishes this feat through a funky stop-and-start style, as well as a typical length advantage.

However, Pelicans wing Herb Jones arguably holds the crown for best SGA defender on the planet.

Jones’ quick feet and fluid hips allow him to stick to crafty change-of-pace drivers, while his seven-foot wingspan smothers shots. Due to his physical gifts, should OKC face off against NOLA, look for Jones to frequently stay tethered to Gilgeous-Alexander on drives and force turnovers, as he ranks 14th in steal percentage. 

Oklahoma City will likely attempt to force Jones to switch because of his individual brilliance on an island. 141 players have defended at least 40 isolation possessions this season.

Of that group, Jones is holding opponents to the second-lowest efficiency mark at 0.63 points per isolation possession. His nickname is “Not On Herb” for a reason. 

Not only is the Pelicans wing a defensive nightmare, but he can exploit flaws in Oklahoma City’s defense.

For example, the Thunder surrender the most corner three-point attempts per game, along with the 12th most wide-open three-point attempts per game. Enter Jones, who shoots roughly 45 percent from the corner and 46 percent on wide-open triples.

New Orleans’ frontcourt featuring Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Jonas Valanciunas will command immense attention inside the paint, so Jones’ sharpshooting may punish Oklahoma City defenders who overhelp towards the basket. 

In summation, Herb Jones is definitely a player that the Thunder desperately want to avoid this postseason. Whether it’s his stellar defense or outside shooting, he’s a mismatch for SGA and company.