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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Daniel Gafford

Oklahoma City helped facilitate the Daniel Gafford acquisition by Dallas at the trade deadline, and, in an ironic twist of fate, it may eliminate them should they meet in the playoffs.

Across two matchups this season while on the Mavericks, Gafford has obliterated the Thunder to the tune of 38 points and 24 rebounds in just 43 minutes of play.

When adjusting those marks, it comes out to an astonishing 31.8 points and 20.0 rebounds per 36 minutes. Yikes! 

He’s an elite roll threat with a massive catch radius, and Luka Doncic ranks second across the NBA in lob creation rate (via Basketball Index).

In other words, the Slovenian superstar understands how to consistently pass Gafford open.

It will be difficult for Chet Holmgren to cut off Doncic’s drives with the lob threat looming behind him. Plus, Gafford sets quality screens that create space for the ball handler. Of the 52 players with at least 100 screen assists this season, he sits ninth in screen assists per minute. 

Meanwhile, the former Wizard ranks tenth across the NBA in offensive rebound percentage and ruthlessly roams the glass for put-backs, which does not bode well for a Thunder defense that allows the largest put-back frequency and third-largest offensive rebound rate.

Gafford can stockpile extra possessions and rack up efficient possessions via layups, dunks, and free throws.

On the other end, he’s a solid paint protector and talented shot-blocker.

Considering the Thunder love to attack the basket, Gafford may pose issues at times for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams. To make matters worse, he possesses the mobility to somewhat hang with Chet Holmgren, which is a typical advantage for the Rookie of the Year candidate.

Overall, Daniel Gafford represents the summation of every weakness that currently haunts Oklahoma City. If these franchises do wind up on the battlefield this postseason, then Gafford may be the Thunder’s downfall.