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Pair of Thunder Rookies Impress in Season Opener

A duo of Oklahoma City rookies had impressive debuts in Wednesday night's season opener against the Jazz.

A duo of Thunder rookies looked impressive in the opening bout against the Jazz, but it might not have been the pair that was expected.

Tre Mann and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who were each selected in the 2021 NBA Draft, were some of Oklahoma City’s best on Wednesday night, combining for 19 points.

While Josh Giddey was active all night long, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists, he couldn’t establish an offensive rhythm. Giddey primarily played off ball, having a usage rate of just 11% to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 23%.

Nevertheless, Mann and Robinson-Earl filled in offensively, shooting an efficient 8-for-13 from the floor.

Jordan Clarkson, Tre Mann, Utah Jazz

Rookie Tre Mann defends Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson.

Robinson-Earl, selected 32nd overall, was automatic off the bench, scoring 10 points and hitting two of his three attempted 3-pointer. For anyone who watched his preseason performances, the threes weren’t a surprise.

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Mann, who was taken in the first round at No. 18, continues to look more comfortable on the court. With self assessed “jitters” in Summer League and preseason, he’s progressively gotten better in each game he’s played.

The 20-year-old former Florida Gator has serious upside on the offensive end of the court, using his speed and athleticism to create separation from defenders. Mann scored nine points against the Jazz, hitting one three and tacking on one assist, steal and block apiece.

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault was looking to get him involved early.

“That’s what we’re rolling with right now.” Daigneault said. “Tre early to get him out there with the starters. We’ll look at a lot of different things.”

With OKC taking on several projects in recent years, it was a refreshing sight to see confidence in the rookies’ openers.

The Thunder will look to bounce back on Friday with an away matchup against the Houston Rockets at 7 p.m.