Thunder Players Skills to Work On Part 2
We are back like the terminator. Back like Douglas MacArthur. Back like the future. I don’t apologize for my terrible puns, but let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? Its time for part two of “Thunder Players Skills to Work on During the Quarantine”.
Terrance Ferguson: Block out the noise, silence the haters.
Saying this has been a tough year for Ferguson would be a monumental understatement. Between child custody battles, rape allegations, and dealing with the death of a family member, as well as a friend Ferguson has had life slap him in the face over and over again this past year. Naturally if someone is going through something so devastating, let alone it happening multiple times; then of course their performance is probably going to take a hit.
The problem is the average person doesn’t play for an NBA team. While the Thunder fan base is among the elite, there are a few bad apple keyboard warriors. I couldn’t possibly understand, or imagine what Ferguson is going through. My only suggestion for him would be related to the fans, and that is to block out the noise. Ferguson has faced nothing but hate since he was drafted by the Thunder in 2017. He has shown what kind of player he can be on both ends at his peak, now he just has to show he can do it consistently. Show em all what’s up Ferg!
Luguentz Dort: Study Donovan Mitchell film.
Lu Dort, who many believed had first-round talent, was signed to a 2-way contract as an undrafted free agent this year. Minor setback for the rookie out of Arizona State. With Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo out at the beginning of the season, Dort hit the ground running. Winning the fan’s hearts with his physique (dude is built like a tank), and his physicality and tenacious defense.
If the season starts back immediately going into playoffs, the Thunder looks to match up with the Utah Jazz and Donovan Mitchell. Dort has held his own against Mitchell in a previous matchup (8 points on 2-7 shooting) but the playoffs are a different animal. Dort needs every advantage he can have in order to lock down the Jazz’s offensive weapon and change the series for the Thunder.
Dennis Schröder: Do you bro.
Schoder was brought in to be a backup point guard to Russell Westbrook. But now, on a Russell Westbrookless (famously a real word) team, Dennis is a part of the league’s best 3 man lineup (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul) in terms of net rating (28.6). Posting career-best splits of (47, 38, 84) Dennis has taken it into a new gear this season, in which he is considered one of the favorites to win the coveted Sixth Man of the Year award. He may come off the bench, but Dennis’s importance to the team this year is unmeasurable.
Steven Adams: Let if fly, Mate!
Steven Adams and the Thunder coaching staff gave a giant middle finger to Thunder fans everywhere in the first preseason game this year. After controlling the opening tip-off, Adams gave the ball to Chris Paul and sprinted to the right corner, received the ball, and without hesitation splashed a 3 pointer like he was Steph Curry. And then. We. Never. Saw. It. Again. Sure, he had a buzzer-beater half-court heave followed by an iconic shimmy.
But Steven Adams has yet to even attempt to stretch his game out to the 3-point line. Instead of chasing hogs with a Rambo knife while you’re barefoot in the backwoods of New Zealand, why not work on making that beautiful Three Ball a real weapon to your game? We wouldn’t be mad, I promise!
Danilo Gallinari: Work on your defense, oh and smile more.
Gallo was a by-product of the Paul George trade. Many considered him an afterthought to Shai and the smorgasbord of draft picks the Thunder would be receiving. But the Italian Stallion (apologies to Rocky) has shown what he can really do scoring 19 points on 47, 41, 89 splits. All while stealing Thunder nations heart with his momentum-shifting step back shots from deep, and where the heck did that come from rim shattering (not really) dunks. Not to mention he donated 400 Covid-19 tests to Oklahoma City, a place he hadn’t even called home for half of a year. But if you need Gallo to improve, it’s defensive.
We have seen him be good I stretch, even play really masterful defense on Luka Doncic in the clutch time forcing a miss on a go-ahead shot. But Gallo leaves a lot to be desired on that end of the ball. Also for a team as young and fun as the Thunder, it would be nice to see you smile a little more. Just kidding, unless?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: You’re perfect, I love you. I mean, perfect that dribble pull up.
SGA turned heads with standout performances in the first round of playoffs last year against the defending champs Golden State Warriors. Helping the Clips push the series to 6, which many thought would be a sweep Shai posted 18, 22, and 25 point performances for his squad. Coming to the Thunder with little expectations, and plenty of opportunities to learn under Chris Paul (and oddly enough Dennis Schröder) and grow, has given him the ability to take his development by the reigns and supercharge it. We have seen how effective he can be getting to the basket, how amazing some of his finishes are, how he uses his length on the defensive end, we have seen so much potential.
What we have yet to see is consistency from deep (34% from deep this season). We have seen windows (41.3% from 3 since February) but for Shai to take the next step into becoming a Bonafide superstar he needs to be able to knock down that shot with better consistency. And given how much he improved from year 1 to year 2, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that will be another weapon in Shai’s mighty arsenal.
Chris Paul: Keep veganing (totally a word) up your lifestyle.
At the beginning of the season Chris Paul was asked all about becoming a vegan. Without giving too much away CP3 would explain why he did it, and what he does, but the question always was this; how does it translate to the court? Rather nicely apparently, Chris Paul has been the best player in the league in clutch time by a significant margin.
He refused to load manage, and go the tank route and managed to lead the Thunder to a 5 seed (dang it, Gobert) all the while playing at an All-Star, maybe even All-NBA level. If being vegan lets you rise up for a Russ lob at 6’1” and slam it down WITH TWO HANDS at the ripe age of 35, and allows you to shock the world becoming the leagues best clutch performer and lead a team with a .9% chance to make the playoffs to possible home-court advantage (Seriously, Rudy why) then maybe I need to look for a vegan health plan as well.
I hope you enjoyed this series, it looks like we may be getting basketball back soon, so let’s see if any of the guys took some of these suggestions to heart!