Thunder GM Sam Presti didn’t let the trade deadline pass without getting in on the action, as he sent Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and an unprotected second round pick.
With OKC heading into the second half of the season with some new pieces, here’s a look at what each player brings to the roster:
While he may not be on the same level as Blake Griffin or other all-star power forwards, Gibson is one of the more reliable fours in the entire league and provides the Thunder with a talented veteran post player.
Not only is he a tremendous pick and roll defender, but Gibson is averaging 11.6 points and seven rebounds this season while starting every game for the Bulls. He’s known for his gritty style of play, and should fit nicely alongside Steven Adams and Andre Roberson in the frontcourt.
Joining chorus to say Taj Gibson is one of the most honest, selfless, upbeat and accessible Bulls I've ever covered.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 23, 2017
Along with his skill, Gibson will be valuable to the Thunder’s locker room environment. In his eighth NBA season, Gibson has a reputation of being a pro’s pro, which should be beneficial for the growth of a mostly young Thunder roster. Even though he’ll likely take away some minutes away from Domantas Sabonis, the rookie will benefit from being around Gibson on a daily basis.
It makes the most sense for Billy Donovan to slot Gibson into the starting lineup, but even if he doesn’t, Gibson will log heavy minutes on a nightly basis and undoubtedly helps improve the OKC roster.
After a decorated college career at Creighton where he won 2014 National Player of the Year honors, McDermott is averaging 10.2 points in his third year as a pro. Seeing the Thunder is the second worst 3-point shooting team in the league, McDermott provides the Thunder with a much-needed floor spacer who still has plenty of room to improve.
After shooting nearly 43-percent from 3-point range last season, McDermott’s average has dropped a bit this year to 37-percent, but part of that can be blamed on the players he had around him. McDermott never had a point guard like Russell Westbrook setting him up in Chicago, so it’ll be interesting to see what “Dougie McBuckets” can do with all the extra shooting space he’ll have in OKC.
With Roberson locked in as the starting small forward, look for McDermott to be one of the first or second players off the bench for the Thunder.