A show-stopping 29-point performance from Ja Morant guided Memphis to an overtime victory against the Jayson Tatum-less Boston Celtics on Monday. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, though, three of their next five outings are versus the red-hot Utah Jazz, who sit perched atop the Western Conference standings at 31-11. With this in mind, the team must take care of business when playing opponents they’re supposed to beat — clubs with less talent on paper. The Oklahoma City Thunder, albeit a competitive bunch (19-24), is one of those opponents.
I contacted Oklahoma City Thunder writer Kade Kimble ahead of the faceoff. Kade is a contributor for Boomtown Hoops, one of the most popular and comprehensive Thunder blogs on the web. Give the website a visit if you haven’t already.
What were your expectations for rookie Aleksej Pokusevski heading into this season, and has he exceeded them?
Pokusevski was understood to be a project. He was a raw prospect, and at his size and skill, was a good pick at 17. He underperformed to begin the season, but his recent progression is giving me hope that he can turn into a good piece for the Thunder. He is super young, so I tried not to write him off early in the season.
Where does Lu Dort rank among the best players on this Thunder team?
Lu Dort’s newfound offensive game added to his top-tier defense puts him in an interesting position on the team. This new level of production puts him as the second-best player on the team, behind Shai, and above Horford.
Do you believe the newly acquired floor-spacer Svi Mykhailiuk fits the team’s long-term plans?
Svi should absolutely be in the future plans for the Thunder. At just 23, his floor-spacing complements Shai and the rest of the roster too well.
Al Horford has had a bounce-back campaign after a miserable stint in Philadelphia. Should the Thunder attempt to trade him before the Trade Deadline?
I had no idea what to expect from Horford in terms of production, especially after how he performed in Philadelphia. That being said, he’s played well for the Thunder. His value is not nearly what it used to be, but he could still be a good fit on a few playoff teams. It’s definitely worth it to try and ship him off and get some assets in return, even if they’re just picks and salary filler.
What’s your final score prediction?
In a hard-fought battle full of runs, the Thunder will take the game 113-108.
A big thank you to Kade for participating! Make sure to follow him on Twitter for round-the-clock Oklahoma City coverage.