The Oklahoma City Thunder kicked off their preseason schedule with a matchup against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night. Oklahoma City beat San Antonio 121-108. The Thunder was up by as many as 20 points in the first half. Oklahoma City had seven players in double figures, but Theo Maledon and Aleksei Pokusevski the two international draft picks that stole the show.
Maledon came off the bench, played 29 minutes, and led the Thunder to score 20 points on 7-14 shooting from the field. He also made 2 of 4 shots from three-point land. Maledon looked in total control for his first time taking on NBA competition. The point guard grabbed four rebounds and dished out two assists.
“I feel like I was confident, my teammates really told me to be confident, coach told me to be aggressive, so really I had a lot of confidence coming in.”
The French-born star is a traditional point guard who takes pride on the defensive end. He is poised on the court and knows what he can bring to the Thunder.
“I know my strengths and what I can bring to the team, and I feel like that’s what I did today, tonight. For sure, I want to get better and better, and that was a good start.”
Pokusevski was selected with the 17th pick of the draft, and he had a solid preseason debut as well. Pokusevski scored 14 points on 23 minutes off the bench. He shot 5-12 from the field and made 4 of 8 three-pointers. Pokusevski also added eight-rebound and hit some big shots down the stretch to keep the Thunder ahead in the game. Many people think Pokusevski is a couple of years away from playing in the NBA with a strong preseason; it will be hard to keep him off the roster.
The seven-footer is skilled, and a versatile offensive player; Pokusevski can shot the three off the dribble and screens. He also can take the ball off the glass and go coast to coast. Pokusevski must show he can hit shots more consistently and efficiently. He must also get stronger and more physical to bang with the bigs on the NBA level.
Both Maledon and Pokusevski are very skilled young players who will help the Thunder go forward as they rebuild. Both have skill sets that translate on the NBA level. It was just one preseason game, but if they can build on this and work hard, it could take their careers a long way.
Mike Musala had a solid game scoring 18 points in 17 minutes, and he did not miss a shot. Muscala shot 5-5 from the field and 4-4 from beyond the arc. Frank Jackosn added 14 points, Hamidou Diallo added 14 points as well. Two other players scored in double digits, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (12) and Geroge Hill (11).
The Thunder used outstanding shooting and ball movement to get the victory. They shot 48.9% from the field and 54.8% from three-point land and outrebounded the Spurs 58-45.