Because the implementation of the NBA’s two-way contract, the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder has been top-of-the-line within the league at leveraging these offers. Particularly in a small market, it’s essential to get as many gamers within the system an opportunity to play on the NBA degree to guage what their future upside may very well be.
Given the Thunder group has its G League affiliate in Oklahoma Metropolis, it’s been a luxurious to have the choice to shortly transfer gamers round each for practices and video games between the Thunder and Blue. The group additionally has a wealthy historical past of capitalizing on these two-way gamers, discovering diamonds within the tough and finally changing these gamers to full-time contracts.
With the brand new Collective Bargaining Settlement, groups now have the flexibility to signal three gamers to those two-way offers, which is yet one more than the pair they’ve been allowed prior to now. As such, rosters can embody 18 gamers comprised of 15 full-time contracts and the three gamers on two-way offers.
Whereas one of many Thunder’s two-way contracts has been solidified courting again to June’s draft, the opposite two spots had been crammed over the previous week, as two acquainted faces are again in OKC.
Which three gamers will likely be on two-way contracts with Oklahoma Metropolis this season and what do they every deliver to the desk?
Though an older rookie at 23 years previous, Johnson has a ton of room to develop his recreation. With the chance to separate time between the G League and NBA this season, he ought to be capable to capitalize and enhance shortly. One of many strongest gamers in the complete Oklahoma Metropolis system, he actually has a body prepared for the NBA at 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot wingspan.
Within the positionless NBA, Johnson is a superb match. He’s technically a guard with the skillset he possesses, however has the dimensions and instruments to be efficient in opposition to taller gamers and slide as much as both ahead spot. He’s additionally a implausible athlete and an actual lob menace each in halfcourt units and in transition.
Control Johnson’s perimeter capturing as a rookie, with that being a key swing talent that might decide how a lot time he spends on an NBA court docket. He shot almost 40% from past the arc on the faculty degree — together with 40.5% of his 3.2 makes an attempt per recreation at Kansas State final season — however might want to showcase his vary with an prolonged 3-point line within the NBA and G League.
Regardless, Johnson has the potential to be an impression participant immediately. He understands the sport and the best way to assist his group win in ways in which don’t all the time present up on the field rating. With the instruments to be efficient on each ends of the ground, he has what it takes to carve out a task with the Thunder because the season goes on.
Lindy Waters III
The primary of two acquainted faces that the Thunder is bringing in on a two-way contract is Lindy Waters III, who grew up and performed basketball each at the highschool and faculty degree lower than an hour from Paycom Middle. Though he was on a full-time NBA contract with the Thunder on the finish of final season, the group opted to say no the assure on his deal for the 2023-24 season earlier this summer time. Nevertheless, the door was by no means closed on bringing Waters again on a two-way deal, which is strictly what occurred.
Recognized for being a fringe shooter, over 90% Waters’ subject purpose makes an attempt final season had been from past the arc. Whereas he wasn’t as environment friendly as he would have preferred to be — capturing 35.8% from deep — the gravity he calls for when on the ground actually helped the Thunder’s spacing final season.
Waters made a number of 3-pointers in 20 of the 41 video games he performed in on the NBA degree final season. Moreover, he’s a profession 42.7% shooter from past the arc on the G League degree in his profession. At 6-foot-6 with the flexibility to shoot over his defender and get sizzling shortly, Waters has the respect of opposing defenses as a shooter.
Given the significance of spacing for this Thunder group, it wouldn’t be stunning for Waters to really play in fairly a couple of video games this season regardless of being on a two-way contract. Particularly if there’s accidents to any of Oklahoma Metropolis’s wings, there will likely be minutes for him to earn. He is aware of the offense properly from his time with the Thunder the previous two seasons and performs inside himself, understanding his function.
Regardless of taking part in with the Phoenix Suns in NBA Summer time League a yr in the past and signing with the Portland Path Blazers final September, Oliver Sarr has solely ever performed common season minutes on the NBA degree with the Thunder. As soon as he steps on the ground for the primary time with the group within the 2023-24 marketing campaign, it can mark the third consecutive season by which he has performed minutes for the Thunder.
Sarr has competed in 31 video games within the NBA over the course of his profession, notching averages of 6.1 factors and three.4 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per contest. Though he hasn’t been a big producer, the 6-foot-11 ahead has really been fairly impactful in restricted motion over the previous two seasons. Given the dearth of measurement on the Oklahoma Metropolis roster and a number of other key accidents within the frontcourt, Sarr has supplied a lot wanted measurement.
Within the 9 video games the French ahead performed in final season, the Thunder went 5-4 whereas he individually posted a constructive BPM (+1.6 common) in these contests. In truth, over the last recreation of the season, he performed 42 minutes whereas notching a double-double that included 22 factors and 15 boards.
Whereas Sarr isn’t anticipated to be an everyday a part of the rotation for the Thunder, he does present frontcourt depth in a pinch. He’s nonetheless solely 24 years previous and creating, so spending time within the G League with the Blue may also be an awesome alternative.
It’s changing into extra clear that Oklahoma Metropolis as a company values relationships and committing to the event of its gamers. With two of the three two-way spots being taken by gamers which were in this system for a number of years and have expertise inside the system, these items function probably essential depth within the grind of an extended season.