Thunder urged to let recent lottery pick 'off the leash' against Mavericks

New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One
New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The OKC Thunder breezed right on through their first-round matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, besting them in just four games which, interestingly enough, marked the club's second-ever series sweep.

Now, they find themselves gearing up to take on an opponent revered as being a bit more menacing than the 49-win Pels, as they'll find themselves squaring off against the surging Dallas Mavericks during these Western Conference Semifinals.

While the top-seeded Oklahoma City is still believed to be favorites to advance from this upcoming series, the odds aren't nearly as clear-cut as they were against NOLA, which suggests that both teams could be in for a real battle.

As a result, coach Mark Daigneault may wish to get a bit more creative with his decision-making during this best-of-seven bout in an attempt to slow down the scorching hot star duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, and, in the eyes of Bleacher Report's Greg Swartz, one alteration the award-winning headman needs to consider is shelling out more playing time to the likes of rookie, Cason Wallace.

OKC Thunder urged to use rookie Cason Wallace more vs Mavericks

"Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving are perhaps the most offensively talented backcourt in the entire NBA. Both play extremely different styles, however, with Dončić using his size and footwork and Irving his ball-handling and shooting ability to break down a defense.

Cutting off the heads of the snake will be key for the Thunder's chances of advancing to the Western Conference Finals, as no one else outside of these two averaged more than 10.2 points per game in Round 1 (P.J. Washington).

Wallace should spend 20-plus minutes a night hounding Dončić and Irving, making them work for every basket. Even if he doesn't contribute much on the offensive end, Wallace needs to see the floor more in Round 2."

Greg Swartz

Despite it being his first time under the bright and menacing lights of the NBA postseason, the recent lottery pick is proving himself to be one of the game's premier defensive talents, as he currently holds the best defensive rating (84.8) of all guards who have logged more than 10 minutes on average during this year's playoffs and is second on the team in defensive win shares compared to those who have averaged double-digit minutes thus far.

Already, coach Daigneault has shown a willingness to go rather deep with his rotations, as he's regularly been found running out 10-man schemes to this point.

Heading into their matchup against the Mavs, fans and pundits alike should expect the headman to continue on with his mold-breaking decisions and Swartz hopes that it will lead to more playing time for the likes of Wallace.

As we saw in round one, an uptick in playing time is much deserved.