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Giddey, Poku show promise as regular season approaches

Giddey, Poku show promise as regular season approaches

In the preseason finale against the Nuggets, the Thunder’s two most recent top draft picks showed potential glimpses of the future

Just like in football, the Oklahoma City Thunder treated the second-to-last preseason game as the rehearsal game while treating the fourth-and-final preseason game as a glorified scrimmage with the second and third units playing the entire contest. But just because that was the case in the Thunder’s annual Tulsa preseason game at the BOK Center, doesn’t mean that there weren’t some signs of encouragement from the team’s youth. The result of the game showed a Thunder overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets, but the team won in other ways with the impressive showings of two of its top three most prized prospects in Josh Giddey and Aleksej Pokusevski.

The only Wednesday starter who even touched the floor the following night was Giddey, who played a total of 60 minutes in his first set of back-to-back NBA games. This was the former NBLers first back-to-back ever and did not show any signs of fatigue, finishing with a near triple-double stat line of 13 points, eight assists and nine rebounds. The recently-turned-19-year-old caught a lot of folks by surprise at just how seamlessly he has transitioned to the NBA court and has shown why the Thunder were confident in taking him sixth overall this past draft. In four preseason games, Giddey averaged 13.5 points, five assists and seven rebounds on 52.3 percent shooting. Preseason disclaimer is advised here, but Thunder fans should be excited at just how well Giddey played this preseason, especially considering the fact how he only played five minutes in Summer League. If his regular-season averages are anywhere close to his preseason numbers, then a rookie of the year campaign will gain momentum. 

Just like last season, Pokusevski saved his best performance for last. In tonight’s preseason finale, the 19-year-old finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. The game was filled with typical Poku highlight and lowlight reels that made the crowd audibly gasped and groaned possession by possession. Consistency will be important for Pokusevski’s development this season. The extreme peaks and valleys of last season need to be straightened out and become more steady. If Pokusevski is to develop into a franchise cornerstone, there needs to be more performances like the last two preseason games than the first two. 

Overall, considering the circumstances of this being a low stakes basketball game where both the Thunder and the Nuggets played their second and third string guys, this is as encouraging of a performance as one could possibly hope for when it comes to how two of the Thunder’s top three prized prospects played. They took care of business and dominated the opposition’s bench. Now the team rests for these next five days before the real tests start to roll in with the Utah Jazz batting first. 

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