The Oklahoma City Thunder fell Monday night to the Dallas Mavericks 127-106, but there was a lot for Thunder fans to be excited about. Many of the young players on the Thunder roster displayed their potential with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley out last night.
19 year old, Aleksej Pokusevski led the way for the Thunder with 21 points and six rebounds. Pokusevski looked more comfortable on the court and Thunder head coach, Mark Daigneault, was impressed by his performance saying that the time he spent in the G-League was an important factor in his success.
Svi Mykhailiuk and Ty Jerome both impressed as well scoring 16 and 14 points respectively. Daigneault pointed out that Mykhailiuk is more than just a shooter and he showed off that versatility against the Mavericks.
Another name worth mentioning is Josh Hall. Throughout the season, Hall has played inconsistent minutes for the Thunder, but tonight he showed off his potential. Hall displayed his craftiness and looked much more comfortable on the court. Daigneault said during the postgame that Hall will continue to “gain the experiences” as he plays more with the Thunder.
Tony Bradley, who was just acquired from the 76ers in the George Hill deal played his first game in a Thunder uniform last night. Bradley who is still learning the in’s and out’s of the Thunder system was solid during his first game. He played coming off of the bench backing up starting center, Moses Brown, for 14 minutes and scored eight points.
Bradley struggled at times during the game as he committed four turnovers, multiple of them being offensive fouls. It should be noted that these mistakes stem from Bradley’s lack of experience in the Thunder system and in the NBA as a whole since he is just 23 years old.
Daigneault spoke briefly during the postgame about Bradley’s performance and he highlighted that Bradley is still adjusting to the Thunder system and learning the plays. As Bradley continues to spend time around the team, he will grow as a player.
All season long, the Thunder youth has thrived under coach Daigneault. The key to this success is the player’s comfortability on the court and around the coaching staff. Prior to when Pokusevski and Brown played in the G-League bubble, they looked like they lacked a sense of comfort on the court, but ever since the bubble, they have been much more comfortable and as a result, have played better.
The sense of comfort players are feeling is a result of the leadership of the Thunder. Since the Thunder do not bring in people into the organization with poor or cocky personalities, the youth are able to thrive and develop with each other without the fear of being bashed by another player or coach. All season long, players have mentioned a sense of comfort they feel playing for the Thunder and that has led to their growth and success that they did not have with other teams. The environment created in Oklahoma City should be credited to the strong leadership inside of the Thunder organization.