This blog has become a borderline slam page for the selfish play of Reggie Jackson and Lazar Hayward for the Oklahoma City Thunder during the Orlando Summer League. Some emotions and personal biases may have crept in and clouded the blog’s evaluations of these players. It might be best for everyone to let a few statistics do the talking for a moment.
Jackson: 3 games played, 86 minutes, 18-41 field goals (43.9%), 11 assists, 9 turnovers
Hayward: 3 games played, 99 minutes, 15-43 field goals (34.9%), 1 assist, 4 turnovers
There will be no further comment about Jackson or Hayward, both of whom sat out today, in this post. Attention will turn to the Thunder’s enjoyable 87-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets Thursday, which evened the team’s record to 2-2. The following Thunder players showed themselves capable of making an impact when given the opportunity.
Dwight Buycks: Even broadcaster Kendall Gill had figured out by game’s end how to pronounce Buycks’ name (it’s “Bikes”), after spending most of the game marveling at the Marquette graduate’s command of the game. Buycks won a memorable duel with Tyshawn Taylor (arguably the best point guard in Orlando this week) and continued his strong shooting performance (10-15 field goals, improving to 54.8% on the week).
He also made a game-changing play with his bullet pass to Latavious Williams for a layup as the game clock ticked under two minutes. Watching a Thunder point guard, in any context, set up a teammate in a game-deciding situation – it was almost as disorienting as it was thrilling.
Marquez Haynes: Ran the team ably when Buycks rested, piling up seven points and seven assists in just 17 minutes. Neither Haynes nor Buycks came into the week with much of a shot at making OKC’s 2012-13 roster, but teams in need of backup point guards are hopefully taking notice of the playmaking that’s occurred when the Thunder summer team insists on actually running an offense.
Gary McGhee: Looks smaller than his listed 6-10, but showed a nice touch on his hook shot today (4-4 field goals in his first extended summer minutes). Between his offensive acuity and his previously-noted ability to get away with moving picks, McGhee has actually looked like a stronger inside option than Cole Aldrich in his limited summer league run. The team has more invested in Aldrich, but his impact has been limited at best.
There is, as mentioned in an earlier blog this week, no reason to read too much into summer league performance. Still, it was instructive to watch the Thunder move the ball (15 assists on 35 made field goals, after registering 25 total assists in the previous three contests) and visibly encourage one another, on a day when their most experienced players were sitting and the other team had the most accomplished NBA player in Orlando (former All-Rookie team selection Al Thornton).
The old basketball adage says that teams are made in the winter, while players are made in the summer. For one day, at least, the Thunder showed signs of using the summer to build a team. Hopefully some of the inactive players were paying attention.
About the Author
Written by Steven Jones
Portland native, Highland Park resident, middle school teacher/basketball coach.