It’s that time of year again. A time to dream. A time to hope. A time to….oh, what’s that? The Golden State Warriors acquired DeMarcus Cousins for just $5 million dollars. Oh, well. It’s still a time to play. And for many of us who haven’t seen our teams lace them up in over a couple months, it’s a brief respite into competitive basketball and a slight glimpse into the future. Some of the players that will step foot on the Thomas & Mack Center (or Cox Pavilion) will be the superstars of tomorrow. But for many of the players that will play in the Las Vegas Summer League, the court in the Mojave Desert will be the closest they ever get to donning an NBA jersey.
For the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team will be looking for their youngsters to show improvement from where they were just 2 months ago. Even though the Thunder were one of the most veteran-laden teams in the league last season, they still counted on a couple rookies to provide valuable minutes throughout the season. Terrance Ferguson and Dakari Johnson showed that they belonged in the league last year. Now, the team will be looking for them to be consistent contributors on the roster.
Ferguson played in 61 games last year, averaging 3.1 points and 0.8 rebounds on 33.3% shooting from distance. He struggled with consistency, but showed flashes of the player he might become. On January 3rd, Ferguson scored 24 points on 6/9 shooting from deep to go along with 3 steals. Then on March 16th, against the Clippers, he scored 7 points in the fourth quarter to help turn a close game into a comfortable win for the Thunder.
Johnson played in 31 games last season, averaging 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds. The highlight of his season came against the Clippers in November when he battled DeAndre Jordan pretty evenly throughout the game and hit the game-clinching shot with a few seconds left in the game. He was a serviceable back-up for Steven Adams whenever the Thunder needed it and was useful against traditional centers. With the addition of Nerlens Noel to the Thunder’s roster, you have to wonder about Johnson’s standing with the team.
For the team’s two 2-way players, Daniel Hamilton and PJ Dozier, this summer league will be a chance for them to see if they can make that next logical step from 2-wayer to professional player. Hamilton has been in the Thunder’s system the last 3 seasons, two with their G-League team and one as a 2-way player, and got some time on the floor last season in garbage time. Dozier, a rookie last year, got into just 2 games last season and will be looking to make an impression on a team that will likely have a roster spot or two open for a young player on a cheap contract.
In addition to the players with some NBA experience, the Thunder will also be carrying some rookies they drafted a couple of weeks ago. Devon Hall and Kevin Hervey will likely get plenty of time to show what they can do on the court. Hamidou Diallo, on the other hand, is an unknown. Per his Instagram page, Diallo is in Las Vegas, but he will have to wait until July 6th to officially be a member of the Thunder. After that, contract talks and minutiae may kill any chance of Diallo playing on the summer league team.
As far as the other players on the roster, Rashawn Thomas seems to be someone who may have a future in the league. He played on the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, the Blue, last season, averaging 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He was also selected to play on the G-League’s USA Select Team that competed in international play this summer. Deonte Burton, formerly of Iowa State, went undrafted in the 2017 NBA draft and chose to play in Korea, where he went on to win league MVP and took his team to the finals.
|Friday, 06 July||Charlotte||4:30 pm||ESPNU|
|Saturday, 07 July||Brooklyn||6:00 pm||NBA TV|
|Monday, 09 July||Toronto||2:30 pm||NBA TV|
|Wed 11 July – Mon 16 July||Tournament Play||TBD||TBD|
|Tuesday, 17 July||Championship Game||TBD||TBD|