Theo Maledon has been the starting guard next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for a week, and after the offensive outburst Maledon had on Friday against the Nets, it has Oklahoma City Thunder fans buzzing with excitement. What could this mean for the future of the Thunder? What could this mean for the 2021 NBA Draft as the OKC Thunder will have a plethora of options, should they factor in Theo Maledon as SGA’s running mate of the future?
I get it, it’s super easy and fun to dream about all the glorious possibilities this potential second-round steal could bring. However, a lot of that optimism is met with a simple phrase “Do not overreact.” Even if overreacting is half the fun of talking basketball.
Since becoming a starter, Theo Maledon is averaging 13-points, 2.5-assists while not getting as many lead-guard chances, and 3.5-rebounds per contest while shooting 56-percent from the floor and 57-percent from deep (including a 6-for-6 night from downtown against Brooklyn in Bricktown).
That shooting night against the Nets ties a franchise record for best single-game shooting night from deep with Caron Butler in 2014.
On the floor, one of the most exciting parts about Theo Maledon’s game is his versatility. Being versatile is a must with Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault’s system. Not only has Maledon shown the ability to play off the ball alongside Shai, and give SGA a reliable shooting option to dish the ball to, but Theo unlocks even more from Shai. With the 19-year-old’s ability to play like the lead guard and playing that point guard role, he can allow Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to play off-ball in spurts a role he thrived in a year ago playing alongside ball handlers like Dennis Schroder and Chris Paul.
Theo Maledon played as the point guard overseas and was taking that responsibility from Hamidou Diallo with the bench unit prior to the George Hill injury. However, Maledon feels comfortable playing both positions and that attitude will help the Thunder organization long term.
He is already this good, coming from overseas, with no summer league, limited training camp and preseason, and only a week worths of starts at 19 years old, so why can’t he be the running mate of the future with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?
It comes down to the 2021 NBA Draft. If the Thunder draft a guard, while having SGA and Dort locked into that starting group, Theo Maledon’s best role is to command the bench unit.
There is incredible value in having a player the caliber of Theo Maledon as the sixth man, it increases the team’s depth, and helps limit offensive drop off with the second unit moving forward. Obviously, for this year, all signs point to Theo Maledon continuing to start alongside SGA, but for the long-term future of the organization, that remains in question.
Ultimately, I think that sixth man role is where Theo Maledon will level out at. That will be an important role for this team, and he will be impressive in it. Where do you have Theo Maledon for the future? Let me know on Twitter.