Heading into the 2020-2021 Season, expectations for Darius Bazley were high. After his stellar performance during the NBA Bubble, fans were eager to see how he’d start this season. Six games in, Bazley has delivered on the hype. He has displayed fantastic ball-handling and court awareness, defensive versatility, (ability to guard multiple positions), improved finishing ability at the rim, and lethal three-point marksmanship. Bazley is clearly in a groove, operating with sky-high confidence, and a clear desire to improve his game.
While he was a man of mystery heading into the 2019-2020 Season, having spent a year interning with New Balance instead of attending college as a Five Star recruit, this year he has expectations. Bazley spent most of last season coming off the bench, but this year is firmly entrenched as a starter for the Thunder. Alongside SGA and Dort, Bazley has definitively demonstrated his immense potential and locked himself into the Thunder’s young core. He is becoming quite the stat sheet stuffer, having improved his numbers in most categories. In just six games this year, Bazley has already surpassed his Double-Double total from all of last season, a very impressive statistical achievement. The ability for a player his size to fluidly manage the offense, capably defend multiple positions, and score from a variety of places on the floor, gives him tremendous upside.
While the rebuild will have some rough patches, Thunder fans should take solace in the talent already in the wings on the team, and look ahead with promise toward the future. Yes, it’s early, but the initial returns on this season have been quite promising for the young Thunder, with Bazley a key part of that. Featuring a young core of SGA (22), Dort (21), Bazley (20), and potentially Diallo (22), Poku (19), and Theo Maledon (19), the future is bright for Oklahoma City. Add in a high lottery pick talent or two, and this team will truly be great in the near future, maybe sooner than expected.