The Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday with the team shorthanded, the defense lacked without Lu Dort. Lu Dort was not the only Thunder player missing, the team did not have George Hill, Josh Hall, Al Horford, Darius Bazley, or of course Trevor Ariza. Mike Muscala was once again a did not play coach’s decision.
The Thunder were six-point underdogs at tip-off and ended up losing 123-102, thanks to some lackluster defense. Without Lu Dort, Zach LaVine was able to pour in 40-points on 75-percent shooting from the floor and 58-percent from deep. Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky, all scored in double figures as well.
The Thunder saw some bright spots in this game, not only their massive 22-3 run in the second frame but also the play of Moses Brown.
The second-year big man, who stands 7’2 and is only 20 games into his NBA career, had a great game which put him in some elite company. Brown had a double-double at halftime, and was closing in on a 20-point 20-rebound double-double, but ran out of time. Brown finished with 20-points, 16-rebounds, five blocks, and only one turnover. As a lengthy big man, and part of a team defense that was struggling to defend, Brown got into foul trouble fouling out of this contest. Altogether, Brown once again showed that he is an interesting option moving forward for Oklahoma City.
Moses Brown becomes the second player in Thunder history to post 20-plus points, 15-plus rebounds, and 5-plus blocks in a game. Brown becomes one of five second-year players in the last ten years to have that stat line in the NBA. Who else has done it? Well, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Miles Turner. That is some elite company.
Moses Brown is a fun 21-year-old big man, he adds a different dynamic than anyone on this roster at 7’2. With the NBA leaning more towards small-ball having an athletic 7’2 guy who can run the floor and be mobile with a high motor can be a real weapon moving forward.
Do not get carried away by any means, not everyone can be a long-term starter or highly important rotational piece moving forward, the Thunder have not even started cashing in their first-round picks yet. However, there is a pathway for Moses Brown being on this roster long-term.
Moses Brown can be that “different look” to throw something new at the team’s match-up-to-match-up which helps elongate his career, similar to Boban Marjanovic, who is a 7’4 gimmick that has played almost 300-NBA games and has been in the league since 2015. I think talent-wise, Moses Brown is already better than Boban, but Boban presents at least an example of how Brown can stay in the league, at least as a different look…If not more.
Moses Brown handing around OKC after this year would be yet another long-line of two-way players who played well enough to earn full-time NBA contracts. That is something not a lot of NBA teams are able to do once every three years, much less for three straight years. Oh, and Moses Brown entering this year, was not even the exciting two-way guy! That was Josh Hall, who we have not yet seen in extended minutes due to injury. Moses Brown has been so fun to watch this year, from the G-League Bubble to the second half of this NBA season. He is why the team is so comfortable resting Al Horford in this second half. Getting extended looks at Brown is way more valuable for this team’s future than Al Horford logging minutes.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a jaw-dropping 17-point first half against the Bulls but finished with 21 points in this contest. The glaring stat in the boxscore is his eight turnovers, which were brought up to SGA postgame. I think it is unfair to harp on a big turnover game from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a contest that these are the only players who logged minutes alongside the 22-year-old in his first year as the lead point guard: Theo Maledon, Aleksej Pokusevski, Isaiah Roby, Moses Brown, Kenrich Williams, Ty Jerome, Darius Miller, and Justin Jackson. That is it, that is the list. SGA has averaged under four turnovers a game (just over three, 3.1), in a year that going back to even early December, there were question marks around if he could be a legitimate point guard.
Ty Jerome showed great flashes as a passer, dishing off some jaw-dropping dimes on his way to his three assists off the Thunder bench. Jerome finished with 11-points, one of six Thunder players in double-figures, and Aleksej Pokusevski despite the box score looked extremely comfortable in this game. That comfortability was not expected this early on as the youngest player in the NBA. Watching him settle in has been fun, for a guy that in November people questioned if he would even log NBA minutes this year.
For more on this game, tune into Locked on Thunder, stay tuned to Bricktown Buckets later today for an update on Trevor Ariza!