The Thunder Report Card: Foreign Affairs

The Thunder Report Card: Foreign Affairs

Gabriel Deck- Grade: Incomplete


Gabriel Deck was playing basketball professionally in Argentina before the Thunder decided to pick him up mid-season. But going through COVID-19 protocols took longer than expected, so Deck did not even put on a Thunder jersey until late April.


Despite having limited time left in the season to play, Deck displayed a very intriguing skill set. His quick footwork allows him to speed past defenders for a jump shot. Deck also showed his court vision by setting up teammates for shots or forging his own opportunities.


Since Deck only played ten games for Oklahoma City, it is difficult to get a critical read on his skill set. Although he revealed enough versatility for the Thunder to be excited regarding his future. 


“I thought he did a really good job coming in late this season, which is not an easy thing to do from a whole different country and different league,” Mike Muscala said.


Theo Maledon- Grade: B-


Oklahoma City positioned Theo Maledon to be the bench’s leader this season. He did not have the burden of game on his shoulders, but he was able to be creative while still making hard in-game decisions. Maledon felt comfortable in that role from the start.


“He’s you know a sparkler, he’s using his tools really well,” Aleksej Pokusevski said.


When Shai Gilgeous-Alexander became injured, the Thunder looked to Maledon to lead the starting lineup. This pressure was a lot for the rookie to handle and it showed in the beginning. Maledon had difficulty with the quick pace of play, taking players one on one, and switching on defense.


But throughout the season, Maledon improved various aspects of his skill set. He was taking more shots from mid-range and pursuing the rim more often than before. Maledon also did a better job at feeding open players and finding opportunities to be creative.


When Maledon reclaims leadership of the second rotation, he will be quite a threat.


He proved he can play in the NBA and I think he’s got a really great career here,” Pokusevski said.


Aleksej Pokusevski- Grade: A


The seven-footer from Greece had a difficult time transitioning into the NBA. In January Pokusevski averaged 1 point per game and was shooting ten percent from the floor. Much like Maledon, the pace of play was too quick for Pokusevski to process. 


Pokusevski spent the month of February playing with the Oklahoma City Blue and when he returned in March, he played confidently. His shot selection became more daring, he attacked the rim more, and he rotated better on the defensive end. During March Pokusevski averaged 11 points per game and shot 36 percent from the floor. 


“When he came back from the G League bubble you could just tell the game slowed down for him,” Muscala said. “The stuff he was able to do this year at such a young age was really really impressive.”


Throughout the remainder of the season his game continued to develop. His efficiency was the biggest improvement in his game as he began to recognize more opportunities to score. Pokusevski’s best performance came in the last game of the Thunder’s season. He shot 10-of-19 from the floor, 67 percent from behind the arc, and finished with 29 points. 


“He has a great feel for the game,” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I’m excited for his future.”


Now that Pokusevski has become confident in his shooting ability the biggest challenge he faces is his size. Despite being seven feet tall he does not have enough muscle to throw around in the paint. For his game to reach the next level, he will need to hit the weight room in the offseason.


“This summer I want to work on getting stronger so I can defend bigger guys,” Pokusevski said.


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