It has now been over two weeks since the NBA season was suspended indefinitely. To this point, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been one of the best stories of the 2019-20 NBA season. They are currently on track to have a better playoff seed than last year’s team with Paul George and Russell Westbrook as well as win 50 games for the first time since Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City.
After starting off the season rough, few teams have been better than the Thunder since Thanksgiving. This is due to the exceptional play of many key individuals on the roster. While some players have exceeded expectations, others have been a major disappointment.
In order of who has played the most games for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season let’s give some player grades.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A
Since being acquired from the LA Clippers last summer, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been nothing short of spectacular. At just 21 years old, he leads the team in scoring and has established himself as a fan favorite and the future of the franchise. All season long, Gilgeous-Alexander has shown that he is a future star in this league, at many times looking like the best player on a current top ten team in the NBA.
Chris Paul: A+
Not even all the way through one regular season, Chris Paul has completely changed the way he is viewed by many around the league. After a couple of solid seasons in Houston, he was known for being injury prone and never healthy when the team needs him most. To this point in the season, Paul has missed zero games in Oklahoma City due to injury and has been the NBA’s most clutch player all season. Although his contract is still outrageous, he has demonstrated excellent leadership on and off the floor. It is safe to say the Thunder wouldn’t be one game out of home court advantage in the playoffs without Paul being an absolute perfect fit.
Dennis Schroder: A-
Another guy on a contract ($15.5 million per season) that many thought coming into the season was much too high, Dennis Schroder has been perhaps the best bench player in the entire league this season. He is averaging 19.0 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in 31.0 minutes per game this season for the Thunder. He also leads all NBA bench scorers with 1178 total points and is third in assists with 250. Schroder’s elite scoring ability this season has made him one of the Thunder’s most valuable players.
Steven Adams: B-
In a season where many expected Steven Adams to make a huge jump with an increased offensive role, we just haven’t been able to see that. Fighting through several injuries and rarely playing games at 100 percent health, Adams has appeared in 58 games this season for the Thunder. In fact, he is averaging less points, rebounds, and steals per game than last season. Regardless, when you have a big man who produces 10.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game while also being a great communicator and leader on the defensive end, it is valuable.
Danilo Gallinari: A
Who thought Danilo Gallinari would still be on the Thunder after the 2020 NBA Trade Deadline? Not many. However, Oklahoma City has his Bird Rights heading into this summer and might be able to retain or trade him still. In his lone season on the Thunder, Gallinari has been great, and will be one of the top free agents this summer due to this. By far Oklahoma City’s best scoring big man, he has averaged 19.2 points on 13.6 shots per game this season.
Nerlens Noel: B+
Oklahoma City getting Nerlens Noel back on another minimum contract for the 2019-20 season may have been the most underrated move of their summer. Noel has been one of the NBA’s best backup big men this season and has brought energy and a spark on both ends of the floor. In just 18.4 minutes per game, he produces 7.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.0 steals. He has been one of the Thunder’s most efficient players all season.
Darius Bazley: B
Darius Bazley’s stats don’t tell the whole story when it comes to his rookie season thus far. Averaging 4.5 points and 3.7 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game may not seem great, but the flashes of his raw potential we have seen this season cannot be overlooked. He has started eight games to this point and has had a typical roller coaster rookie season. I’ve seen enough good things out of Bazley before his recent injury to think he deserves a great grade for the season so far.
Terrance Ferguson: C-
Going through personal issues for a good portion of the season, Terrance Ferguson has never looked like himself. It appears confidence is an issue as he hasn’t been very aggressive on the offensive end. At this point in his career, he should be firing just about any 3-point shot that is open, but that has not been the case. One thing you can hang your hat on with Ferguson is that he is an excellent defender and will always give you full effort.
Abdel Nader: C
Considering the makeup of the Oklahoma City roster, Abdel Nader had every chance to have a breakout season of his own. With the small forward position being the most thin on the entire roster, Nader had the chance to establish himself and get any minutes he wanted. However, to this point in the season he has only appeared in 48 games, averaging 6.0 points in 15.8 minutes per contest.
Mike Muscala: C+
A 3-point specialist, Mike Muscala has been better than expected this season. While his 35.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc isn’t as great as he has shot in other seasons throughout his NBA career, he actually has had several very productive games. There have been several instances this season in which Muscala has given the Thunder key buckets off the bench when they need it most and has been a direct contributor to the success of the team in limited minutes.
Hamidou Diallo: B-
Another guy that has battled injuries this season, Hamidou Diallo has been great when healthy. His production has fluctuated throughout the season as he has struggled to work his way back into the rotation after injury, but 6.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game is solid nonetheless. His shot is still somewhat of a concern with a 20.0 3-point percentage, but his athleticism alone is extremely fun to watch and gives you a feeling he will be a key rotational piece for years to come in Oklahoma City.
Deonte Burton: D+
After getting his two-way contract converted to a full-time NBA contract last season, Deonte Burton has been a disappointment this season. At 26 years old and appearing in only 34 games, he’s produced just 2.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per contest in limited minutes. He’s never been able to find his 3-point shot and still struggles to establish himself at any position. He often finds himself having to play as an undersized big man, which is still confusing in itself.
Luguentz Dort: A
A true diamond in the rough, undrafted free agent signing Luguentz Dort has been excellent for the Thunder this season. In fact, he has solidified himself as a starter and will earn himself a full-time NBA contract of his own in due time. A lockdown defender and patient scorer, Dort has already figured out how to play within his role. He lets the game come to him and rarely makes the rookie mistake of trying to do too much. Oklahoma City struck gold with Dort and should be signing him to a multi-yer deal soon enough.
Overall, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been great all season. Regardless if the regular season is played out or not, they have essentially locked themselves into the playoff picture and are a team nobody wants to see in the first round. With a mixture of veterans and young guys, their chemistry is excellent and they play as hard as anyone under Billy Donovan.