The Oklahoma City Thunder season is in full-swing…well, as much of a swing as a season can get into in this unique 2020-21 season. While it is still way too early in the season to form long-lasting impressions, one trend isn’t at all surprising, and will only continue as the season progresses. That trend is the minutes that Mark Daigneault has been able to find for Josh Hall. The two-way player played in five of the first 13 games of the Thunder season. To compare, Lu Dort did not see the floor for the Thunder until game 21 last year.
On a team that has been fully healthy all things considered, hardly seeing players miss games period while other teams around the league are having a hard time filling active rosters, the two-way rookie is still “sneaking” onto the floor. However, once he gets on the hardwood, he is hardly under the radar.
Not only does his longer-than-life legs stand out on the floor, and not only is the 6’9 forward a 20-year-old who looks 18 (I feel his pain there), his play has made a huge statement. The former five-star recruit, who elected to skip college and head straight to the NBA Draft following a stop in the prep circuit, has always been an interesting prospect. Especially when all signs pointed to him heading to North Carolina State to play ball in the ACC. When he stayed in the NBA draft, a few were surprised. Many NBA teams recognized his talents, even grading him out as a first-round talent prior to the draft.
However, things happen and Hall falls down draft boards and eventually goes undrafted, allowing him to pick his own destination. What better place than Oklahoma City which has had such a rich history, even beyond Lu Dort, of developing players on the Two-Way contract?
When Josh Hall checks into the game, he plays fearlessly. Hall is aggressive and smooth when attacking the rim. Even as an undrafted two-way player when he hits the hardwood he is getting to the line an important trait for any scorer, but especially a young player like Hall.
For his position, Hall grades out at an above-average passer (Get used to hearing “Hall pass” each time he dishes out an assist). Another big praise of the North Carolina native is that he is not just someone who used his size and athleticism to dominate the prep circuit. The former-North Carolina State commit can legitimately shoot and space the floor.
Josh Hall fits everything that Mark Daigneault wants in a player. He is a switchable defender, and versatile on the offensive end. He can drive, he can shoot, he can pass, and he is comfortable dribbling the ball which is huge for the Thunder. OKC loves when their guys can grab a rebound and push the pace without needing to wait for a guard or better ball handler to come to retrieve the ball. Hall can do anything and everything this organization will ask of him.
It is incredibly hard to hit on any two-way players. Much less to the capacity that Sam Presti and company did with Lu Dort. As far as two-way success stories go, you can throw in Deonte Burton as a feather in Presti’s cap.
However, if you are one of the sickos (like me) who watch the NBA Summer League, you likely fell in love with Kevin Hervey the past few summers. Hervey got his shot as a two-way player with the Thunder bouncing back-and-forth from the NBA squad and the Blue and just could not catch on. Despite how incredible he looked in non-NBA settings. That could be attributed to not enough chances, or it could be he just is not an NBA level better. One thing is for sure, Josh Hall will have chances.
We can not just assume that since Oklahoma City found a diamond in the rough with Lu Dort, that it is an easily repeatable process. If anyone will duplicate that success though, it is Josh Hall.
Hall has already dealt with a lot of adversity. He came into the league in a season that did not allow him to partake in Summer League and does not have a typical G-League season. After a shortened training camp, and being out for a few preseason games, Josh Hall is once again missing him this time due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Yet again, an uncontrollable obstacle for the young rookie. Whenever it is Josh Hall returns to the team after clearing the protocols, he will be ready to put his skill set on full display.