The Thunder have embarked on their trip to Orlando, Florida today for an East Coast road trip ranging somewhere between 12 to 36 games.
They’re leavin’ on a jet plane and literally don’t know when they’ll be back again.
Thankfully, that big ‘ol jet airliner will be packed, as 16 of the 17 members from this OKC squad will be bubble bound (barring any last-minute surprise absences). While many teams (RIP Nets & Wizards) will be without multiple players due to injury, COVID or personal reasons, OKCeanic Flight 815’s manifest will only be short one player, who had accumulated all of 11 total minutes played for Oklahoma City this season. From All Star Chris Paul to newly signed substitute player Devon Hall, and even the enigmatic Andre Roberson, the Thunder’s rotation players are healthy and willing to play.
Let’s take a look at that passenger list and get an update on each player going into the season restart.
There’s not a single player on the Thunder, and maybe the entire league, who gets more beat up on a nightly basis than Adams. It’s become tradition that the bumps and bruises build to the point to where we all know he’s going to seem half speed in the playoffs. Four months of rest and relaxation benefits the Big Kiwi more than anyone else, mate.
When the season shut down, the Thunder’s 1st round rookie was in the midst of an extended 4-6 week injury absence. Bazley is now fully healthy, ready to assume his backup power forward minutes, and according to his Instagram, really ripped, swole, cut, jacked or yoked, whatever the cool word for muscular is these days.
Early this season, which seems like last season now, Diallo’s play was one of my favorite Thunder storylines. He scored in double digits in five of his first 12 games. Then he injured his right elbow, missed five weeks and never looked the same when he came back. He scored in double digits in only four of his next 27 games. It’s hard to see minutes for Diallo if everyone is healthy.
If anyone was a candidate to sit out Orlando, Gallo seemed to be the easy choice. He is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and has a long history of injury. His home country of Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus, and he was vocal about his concerns for his native land. And yet in a virtual media call last Friday, Danilo explained sitting was never an option for him because he believes this team is truly fighting for something. He didn’t define exactly what that “something” was, but I think it roughly translates to “campionato.”
The second year budding star has helped every Thunder fan sleep easier during shutdown knowing the future is safe in his hands. As a rookie last year, Shai was probably the Clippers’ best player in the 1st round playoff matchup against the #1 seed Warriors. What will SGA do for an encore in his sophomore postseason?
The former Korean League MVP’s greatest achievement this season by far is surviving the one week window in which the Thunder could’ve waived him and signed the likes of Gerald Green, Iman Shumpert or Allen Crabbe.
Congrats to Hall for becoming OKC’s own Tom Berenger*. If he plays, though, something went terribly wrong.
TFerg has bounced around more this season than the opening titles of Baywatch. He was the starter. Then he got hurt. Then he came back for a few games. Then he missed a lot of games due to personal reasons.
Then he came back and played off the bench. Through it all, Ferguson maintained a cheerful, professional, and team-first attitude. I don’t know how much he’ll play off the bench, or how he’ll perform when he does, but I’m happy for Terrance that he prioritized his child above basketball. His focus on family likely affected his play on the court, and it was absolutely the right call.
Hey Hervey, I know you won’t be getting any playing time, but spending a month or two chilling at Disney sure beats spending a month or two working up a sweat at the Cox Convention Center, am I right?
The $38.5 million question: will the time off and rest be good for the Thunder’s elder statesman’s joints, or will it be like when the 40 year old at pick-up ball sits one game and then his back and knees are all stiff because he sat down? The last we saw CP3, he was knocking down a gamewinner and playing killer D to close out the Celtics on the road. If OKC gets that Clutch Paul, they’re going to be a tough out for any team.
Billy Donovan, please play Mikey Moose in the house of Mickey Mouse. The bench needs more shooting, spacing, scoring, solid defending and a big body. He provides all of the above.
The biggest question mark of them all. Forget the City Edition or Statement jerseys, Dre should board the plane wearing The Riddler costume. To play or not to play, that is the question. That nobody, not even Donovan, Sam Presti nor Robes himself, will know the answer to until Camp Disney is wrapped.
The most underrated Thunder player all season continues to get slept on going into the NBA restart. Behind CP3, Shai, Schroder, Adams, Gallo, and even Dort and Roberson on the OKC hype scale, Noel will just silently keep putting up eyepopping Per 36 points, rebounds, steals and blocks.
He was the 6th Man of the Year of the first 64 games of the season. If he’s the 6th Man of the Year of the final 8 games of the season, then the Thunder will likely lose their 1st round draft pick. Because they’ll stay within the top 6 seeds.
At Thunder media day way back in September 2019, Nerlens Noel told us Nader was going to surprise us. I scoffed, you scoffed, everybody scoffed. And our scoffs seemed justified in when Nader was netting DNPs and rough outings the first month of the season. Then right around Thanksgiving, Noelstradamus’s prediction came true. Nader may still have issues defensively, but he’s proven to be a fairly reliable shooting weapon off the bench.
I’m going to be completely honest: I always forget he’s on the team until I make a list like this one where I have to think of every player on the roster. But I did it without googling, pinky promise! UPDATE: Roby had a minor procedure on his right plantar fascia during the hiatus and will not be part of the traveling party to Orlando as he continues his rehab in OKC. Turns out I could’ve forgotten about him after all.
*Anyone who got my cheesy 90’s movie reference, you have earned my eternal respect. Everyone else, google “The Substitute.”