Théo Maledon
(Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder)

Preview: Thunder vs. Pistons

Game Day: OKC vs. DET

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com

WHAT TO WATCH

Young Contributions – There will be a host of young talent on the floor and contributing at a high level between the Thunder and the Pistons on Friday night. The Pistons tout the 2021 No. 1 overall draft pick in Cade Cunningham who leads the rookie class in points per game while logging the second most steals and assists per game. 

Meanwhile, the Thunder has had a rookie post 25 or more points in each of its last two contests, including rookie two-way guard Lindy Waters III, who posted a career-high 25 points against the Hawks on Monday. The Thunder has now had four different rookies post 25-point performances this season, the most by any team in the NBA since the 1988-89 season. 

Sticking to a Style – Though the Thunder is missing several players due to injury, the team has anchored itself to a style of play offensively that not only creates advantages but gets everyone involved. After dishing out 31 assists against the Hawks on Wednesday, the Thunder has logged 30 or more assists in back-to-back contests for just the fifth time in OKC history. 

Over the last three games, OKC has operated at a 71.9 percent assist rate, dishing out 92 assists on 128 field goals. As a result, OKC has displayed incredibly balanced scoring with at least six players scoring in double figures in each of the last three games. 

(Coby Van Loan | OKC Thunder)

Path to the Paint – In terms of style of play, the Thunder and the Pistons have one thing in common since the start of the New Year – hunting opportunities in the paint. Since January 1, roughly 50 percent of both the Thunder and the Pistons’ field goal attempts come from inside the paint putting both teams in the top five in the league in that category. 

NOTABLE

Thunder forward Aleksej Pokuševski has dished out 19 assists over his last two contests. This uptick in facilitating has been a trend for the 7-footer who has logged 62 assists during the month of March after logging just 57 total from October through February. 

QUOTABLE

SCOUTING REPORT

The young Pistons (20-56) enter Oklahoma City on the second night of a back-to-back after facing the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. Rookie point guard Cade Cunningham serves as the engine to Detroit’s offense as he scores or assists on 23 percent of the team’s total points. He’s surrounded by players such as Saddiq Bey who has logged a Pistons’ franchise-record 39 games with three or more 3-pointers as well as newcomer Marvin Bagley III who is averaging 16 points while shooting 57 percent from the field during the month of March. 

Defensively, though the Pistons have hovered around the bottom of the league in overall defensive rating this season, the team has held its opponents to just 32.5 percent 3-point shooting during the month of March which is the lowest in the league.