The ‘other’ rookie in Oklahoma City is quietly putting together a great season

Cason Wallace is not essentially the most well-known rookie on his workforce — that honor goes to Chet Holmgren, who may do the unimaginable and beat out Victor Wembanyama for Rookie of the 12 months. 

However Wallace continues to be contributing excess of a typical NBA rookie, and proper now he is offering stellar two-way minutes on a legitimately good Thunder workforce whose ceiling appears to get greater by the day.

Wallace, the 6-foot-4 guard out of Kentucky, was drafted primarily for his defensive chops. He averaged 2.0 steals per sport at UKY the place he rapidly established himself as one of many nation’s premier point-of-attack defenders. Wallace formally launched himself to the faculty basketball world on Nov. 15, 2022, when he recorded eight steals in opposition to Michigan State.

By 1 / 4 of the NBA season, that defensive prowess has translated to the professionals for Wallace, the tenth decide in 2023’s NBA Draft. He is averaging 1.0 stock (steal + block) per game for OKC, together with 2.9 deflections per 36 minutes, which is within the eightieth percentile of all NBA gamers, according to CraftedNBA.

Wallace possesses the bodily instruments and defensive instincts to function OKC’s “guard stopper” for years to return. He is seemed comfy on protection, particularly for a rookie who’s being tasked with fairly robust assignments frequently. 

He is additionally making a league-leading 52.4% of his three-point makes an attempt. The quantity of his pictures is not astronomical (2.1 makes an attempt per sport) but it surely’s not as if Wallace has merely gotten fortunate on simply a few shot makes an attempt, both. 

His elite numbers from deep are spectacular for just a few causes; firstly, even high-level faculty shooters take a while to acclimate to the NBA’s three-point line, which is almost two toes farther from the ring than the NCAA’s. So, for Wallace to right away be taking pictures at an elite clip is fairly uncommon. Secondly, he wasn’t even an elite shooter in faculty. At UKY, Wallace hit 34.6% of his threes, and whereas his shot was by no means a concern — i.e., most scouts anticipated him to be a tremendous shooter within the NBA — it was by no means regarded as an elite ability, both.

Will Wallace shoot over 50% from three-point vary for his whole profession? Properly, except he is the best shooter the NBA has ever seen, then in all probability not. But it surely’s an amazing signal nonetheless for OKC that Wallace is taking pictures it so properly via 20 video games. 

Wallace hasn’t simply been a three-point specialist, although. He is ending properly on the rim too (69% inside 4 toes) and is entering into the paint fairly frequently. From “floater vary” which is 4 to 14 toes from the ring, he has been good (53% taking pictures) regardless that he does not spend a ton of time in that space. 

Beneath is a pleasant floater he broke out earlier this month in opposition to Dallas. Versatility is a giant cause Wallace shot up draft boards — he can do a little bit of the whole lot, and he is exhibiting that in Oklahoma Metropolis proper now.

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