Thunder Notes: Bazley, Donovan, P. Johnson

Despite being one of the youngest players on an NBA roster in 2019/20, Darius Bazley played a regular rotation role for the Thunder for most of his rookie season, logging 17.2 minutes per contest in 53 games. Although Bazley showed flashes of upside this season, particularly when he made use of his length and athleticism on defense, scouts who spoke to Erik Horne of The Athletic believe he still has a ways to go before realizing his potential.

“He’s got a lot of growing to do,” one Eastern Conference scout told Horne. “He’s athletic. Still really raw.”

As Horne notes, the Thunder traded down from No. 21 to No. 23 to draft Bazley, passing on the opportunity to select Brandon Clarke, who went to Memphis with that 21st overall pick. While Clarke certainly had the better rookie season of the two players, he’s nearly four full years older than Bazley, so the Thunder are still hoping they made the right call for the long term.

Here’s more out of Oklahoma City:

  • With the Thunder seemingly headed for a rebuild and Billy Donovan entering the final year of his contract in 2019/20, there were signs that a coaching change could be around the corner. However, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes, Donovan flipped the script based on the great job he did in OKC this season. While Donovan hasn’t received an extension yet, GM Sam Presti said in April that he expects to have that discussion soon.
  • Thunder pro evaluation coordinator Paul Johnson interviewed on Monday for the general manager role with the NBA G League’s new Mexico City franchise, a source tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). Johnson previously served as a referee operations analyst for the NBA.
  • In case you missed it, Thunder owner Clay Bennett was among those on last Friday’s Board of Governors call who spoke out in favor of including as many teams – and particularly small-market franchises – as possible when the NBA resumes play.
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4 thoughts on “Thunder Notes: Bazley, Donovan, P. Johnson

  1. afsooner02

    Billy deserves to be kept if he wants to keep coaching. Look we all loved Russ for what he did when he was here and staying even after kd screwed us. However, Russ is his own coach. He does what Russ wants. That came at a cost to Billy who looked like he couldn’t coach.

    Take that player off the team and get a bunch of guys who listen to coaching and buy into a team first platform and Billy is all of a sudden a coach of the year candidate. Did he learn to finally coach last year? No…it’s always been there. He just didn’t have the right personnel to show he could coach.

  2. Simmons>Russ

    Thunder should trade for NAW.
    Spent his rookie year as the 3rd choice SG and that opportunity doesn’t look like it’s getting any bigger next season. However in pre season he liked great as a SGthat could shot, play make play both ends on or off the ball I was very optimistic.
    I think pairing him with his cousin SGA would in the future make a great backcourt pairing for the Thunder.

  3. x%sure

    From the Bazley link: “I don’t have a great feel for him (Bazley), but when Sam drafted him, that was such a Sam Presti move,” one Western Conference scout said. “I think Sam is a very sharp guy, but I think sometimes he wants to be cute. Even with the pick of Terrance Ferguson — taking another kid who didn’t play college basketball in the U.S. Then Bazley worked for the shoe company.
    Agree, and I bet they’re feeling fine in Memphis taking the guy 3-4 years older.

    Two ways of describing Brandon Clarke: A) “Clarke may be feasting on second units”, but B) “Clarke is leading all first-year players in win shares (4.4) despite ranking 15th in minutes played.”

    Either way, comparing Bazley favorably to awful Terrance Ferguson is too generous to Bazley. Andre Roberson, another recent OKC wing, got a big boost from college experience at Colorado… maybe Presti thinks that overrated his value to an NBA team??

    • x%sure

      I left out a quotation mark after “shoe company”. The following remark was mine.

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