#12 Deonte Burton
Deonte Burton’s last year has been a sight to see. After winning the Foreign Player MVP in his one season with the Korean Basketball League in 2017-18, Burton was signed to a two-way contract in July of 2018.
The former Iowa State Cyclone showed during Summer League why the Thunder thought so highly of him despite him just joining the franchise. His athleticism, unique build and physicality gave Oklahoma City a prime candidate for development with the Blue.
In his moments in the NBA, Burton has shown flashes of a player who can play and guard multiple positions as well as the ability to score from anywhere on the floor.
An 18-point, 7-of-9 (3-of-5 from three) performance during February 11th victory against the Portland Trailblazers shows the potential.
Of course, Burton still has a long way to go until he seriously contribute night-in-and-night-out. Overall, he is a nice player to have in your developmental pipeline.
The Thunder could very well upgrade him to a full-time contract so he can possibly contribute in the postseason. The team has until March 1st to negotiate his future with the Thunder, otherwise he would remain in the G-League.
I want to see him upgraded to a full-time contract before I fire up the hot take cannon. But I love Burton as a versatile asset. He’s young, supremely athletic on an already athletic squad and has an ability to learn on the fly. Everything you want in a player of this caliber.
#11 Raymond Felton
The always prepared Raymond Felton’s role was greatly reduced — if not completely eliminated — by the offseason signing of Dennis Schröder.
Felton has only appeared in 17 games this season. 15 of those appearances came during games Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Terrance Ferguson or Schröder sat out with injury/rest.
But as your third option at point guard? Felton is a luxury.
Everyone will point to the February 11th victory over Portland where Felton scored 15 points and hit his first three threes of the game.
His greatest importance has been as a leader in the locker room. After numerous discussions with officials from the team, time and time again, Felton’s leadership has come up. One of the reasons the team was happy to remain silent at the trade deadline was so they did not disrupt the locker room chemistry. A chemistry Felton has had a large hand in helping create.
When you remember that the Thunder once ran Semaj Christon as their backup point guard to Westbrook, Felton’s importance to the Thunder grows. His willingness to accept the dreaded “locker room leader” role many aged-players encounter and ability to impact a game when called upon is a valued asset.
#10 Abdel Nader
The potential of Abdel Nader is intriguing. A wing/forward who can shoot at a high percentage from deep with the ability and fearlessness to put the ball on the floor with purpose.
Sadly, Nader’s flaws have plagued him more than his strengths have blossomed in his short time with the Thunder.
While the effort is most assuredly there, his lack of quickness makes him susceptible to advantageous matchups for opponents. His size/frame is not quite there yet in terms of how Billy Donovan would want to use him.
The desire is to be able to utilize Nader as a power forward with the ability to spread the floor. The 25-year old would have to bulk up in order to gain Donovan’s trust in addition to becoming more disciplined on the defensive end.
A preseason knee injury kept him out of training camp. He didn’t practice until the end of October. This may have contributed to the lack of development early on.
Still, the skills are there. From the end of December to the end of January, Nader was shooting 44 percent on over two attempts per game. For a team that is in need of shooting, Nader provides another intriguing asset.
He is routinely the best-looking shooter during practice. The Thunder need shooting. I also appreciate his fearlessness and purpose when putting the ball on the floor. The flaws are striking but the potential intrigue is enough to keep me hopeful for now. He can stretch the floor. That, along with more consistent playing time puts him above the previous two.