The Oklahoma City Thunder’s slow start to the season continued on Friday night.
Battling against fellow rebuilding team in the Houston Rockets, the Thunder were torched, losing 124-91 in Houston.
The turnover bug reared its ugly head once again for the Thunder, as Oklahoma City handed the ball back to the Rockets 19 times on the night.
While the starting lineup struggled mightily against the Rockets, a pair of contributors off the bench were a bright spot in an otherwise bleak performance.
Kenrich Williams didn’t appear in the preseason, and looked like he was going to need a few games to work his way back into the flow of things on Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz. But on Friday night, he was one of the Thunder’s best contributors.
Bringing his signature energy off the bench, Williams scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, also pulling down four rebounds and dishing out two assists. Williams also was efficient from 3-point range, draining 2-of-3 attempts from deep.
Oklahoma City’s outputs are going to vary from night to night, but Williams’ ability to bring some defense and effort off the bench each night will remain a constant. Though he’s a very different player than Hamidou Diallo, Williams will do a nice job of filling his role again this season for the Thunder, proving to be a spark plug for an otherwise dismal defensive effort from the Thunder.
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Oklahoma City’s polarizing big added some night minutes Friday night for the Thunder off the bench.
Though he was only called upon for 17 minutes of action, the former first-round pick again showed off his fearless playmaking ability while limiting his turnovers.
Aleksej Pokusevski only turned the ball over twice while scoring 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting. A majority of Pokusevski’s misses came from deep, as he only knocked down 2-of-7 shot attempts from beyond the arc, but if he can continue to hone in on his shot selection from deep he can be a legitimate option to stretch the floor.
The most encouraging thing from Pokusevski was his success when attacking the basket.
The Serbian made both of his shot attempts from inside the arc, and was able to battle to come down with seven rebounds.
Building Pokusevski’s physique was a major talking point all offseason long, and while he hasn’t undergone a Giannis-like transformation, Pokusevski is undoubtedly stronger and more apt to deal with the physicality of the NBA.
He still has a long way to go, but if he can put in more performances like Friday’s, he’ll undoubtedly be headed in the right direction.