The Oklahoma City Thunder had a busy Monday, even prior to tip-off of Tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons, the Thunder made three roster moves. Not only did they waive Justin Jackson, but they signed Jaylen Hoard and Justin Robinson to deals. Both of them made their debuts for the Thunder in this contest, hours after the ink dried onto their contracts.
The OKC Thunder entered this game without star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot), young prospect Darius Bazley (shoulder), Defensive star Lu Dort (concussion), Isaiah Roby (Concussion), Josh Hall (Concussion), and Mike Muscala (ankle). Of course, they were also without veteran Big man Al Horford who is shut down for the rest of the year. Altogether, the Thunder had ten players available. In that group, only three were drafted in the first round. The Thunder have up to three first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft alone.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons in this game, despite the records entering this contest, showed that they are in two totally different spots. The Pistons, are not so much soul searching with every player, they are taking their collection of players and trying to feel out how to play with each other. The Thunder, are starting from ground zero, not caring as much about how the players match together but instead trying to test the limits on what each player can and can not do.
This was also the rare game, that the Thunder lost the “Energy and Intensity” battle. A battle they have hardly if ever, lost. The Pistons were into this game from the word go, not only with the five players on the floor at any given time but with the sidelines as well. This game was physical and got a bit chippy at times, and the short-handed Thunder playing with two guys who have not even gotten to practice with the team, could not match it.
Those two new guys, Justin Robinson and Jaylen Hoard played pretty well all things considered. The two players showed no fear, each showing flashes of different tools. For Robinson, it was his aggressiveness both shooting the ball and driving into traffic, taking contact.
Aleksej Pokusevski turned in another solid performance, including once again showing the ability to create his own shot. Poku has a unique ability as a 7 footer to start and stop on a dime.
The rookie finished with a team-high 19 points, including a pair of blocks, five rebounds, but was baited into four rookie fouls.
In this game, Kenrich Williams left in the third quarter due to a left ankle sprain and did not return. His status for Wednesday against the Hornets is still up in the air.
Up Next, the Thunder take on the Charlotte Hornets, as they go for a sweep of the Hornets after knocking them off in Charlotte back in December for the season opener.