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Is Having too Many Point Guards a Problem For the Thunder?

The Thunder have found the point guard of the future, but need to figure out a roster littered with his backups

Through the first quarter of the 2021-22 season it looks like the Thunder have found their backcourt of the future. Shai Gilgeous- Alexander is locked down through the 2026-27 season, No. 6 overall pick Josh Giddey is adjusting to NBA life well ahead of the rookie learning curve and has shown he can take some of the ball-handling burden off of the Thunder’s star player.

With the starters in place for the foreseeable future the question turns to who fills in the rest of the minutes behind them?

General Manager Sam Presti spent two of his three first-round picks this summer on point guards, taking Giddey sixth and Tre Mann at No. 16. This came a year after trading for Theo Maledon on on the night of the 2020 draft and acquiring Ty Jerome from the Chris Paul. Additionally, Vit Krejci made his way from Zaragoza and now Oklahoma City has a lot of cooks for a small kitchen.

Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander both possess the size and skill sets to play multiple positions which affords coach Mark Daigneault the ability to experiment with lineups. But while it’s never a bad thing to have multiple players capable of handling the ball, there is just one to go around.

Last season, fresh off of trading point guard Paul to the Suns, the then-rookie Maledon started 49 of 65 games played for the Thunder showcasing an ability to be a productive role player averaging 10.1 points, 3.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds. This season has not been as fruitful for the second-year Frenchman shooting 3-for-26 from behind the arc, averaging 2.6 points and featuring in just three of the Thunder’s last 14 games — including four DNPs.

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Krejci is certainly the biggest project of the group, having played just three games for the big league club totaling two points in nine minutes which includes a five-second appearance on Nov. 7 against the Sacramento Kings. The 6-foot-8 guard has also been featured in eight games for the OKC Blue.

Thankfully for the Thunder, the organization is in position to afford Krejci some time to develop and see what kind of player he can become, but for now it doesn’t appear he will feature much in the rotation.

Jerome is currently averaging 6.8 points in 13.8 minutes this season. With the league becoming more positionless by the year, his size and passing ability should continue to find him roles on this team despite having stiff competition for minutes — even if they aren’t at his natural position.

Mann appears to have secured a spot as Giddey’s primary backup, showing flashes of scoring potential coming off the bench. The rookie is averaging 7.1 points per game, but has bumped that up to 10.8 over his last five games filling in for Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander who have missed time.

The good news for Presti, Daigneault and the Thunder is that they’ve got plenty of time. It will be a few years before the Thunder are competing for playoff a spot again, and with Jerome (24) being the only one of the four being over 21 years old there’s plenty of time for development and players to separate themselves from the pack.

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