OKC Thunder: What you need to know about the seven newest Thunder players

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: October 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm •  Published: October 14, 2012
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photo - From left, Hasheem Thabeet, Perry Jones III and Andy Rautins are three of the seven new Thunder players vying for a roster spot.
Photo illustration by Phillip Baeza; Photos by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
From left, Hasheem Thabeet, Perry Jones III and Andy Rautins are three of the seven new Thunder players vying for a roster spot. Photo illustration by Phillip Baeza; Photos by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Some of the names you know. Most of them you probably don't.

There are seven new players on the Thunder's roster this preseason.

Four of them won't make the team.

But on Tuesday night, in the preseason home opener, fans will get their first look at this year's version of the Thunder — and the new faces are getting substantial playing time thus far.

Meet Perry Jones III, Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton, Hollis Thompson, DeAndre Liggins, Andy Rautins and Walker Russell Jr.

“The new guys are all NBA players,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “As you go through a training camp, everybody knows you have to cut (the roster) down to 15 guys eventually. But all the guys we have on our team in this camp are definitely NBA caliber players. All of them.”

Here's a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of all seven, as well as a look at what else is new with the Thunder this season.

 

PERRY JONES III

Age: 21

Position: Forward

Height: 6-11

Weight: 235

College: Baylor

Last played: Baylor

2011-12 stats: 13.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 30.7 mpg.

Claim to fame: Slipping to the Thunder at No. 28 in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Has a skill: He's an elite athlete, and that allows him to run the floor and finish with consistency in transition.

Needs to drill: If he can develop his perimeter shooting and defense, Jones could become the type of versatile power forward that is starting to pop up on more and more NBA teams.

What they're saying: “He tries to do it all. He can dribble a little. He can (isolate), post up, pick and pop. There's not really much he can't do.” — Reggie Jackson.

Hasheem Thabeet

Age: 25

Position: Center

Height: 7-3

Weight: 260

College: Connecticut

Last played: Portland

2011-12 stats: 1.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 7.7 mpg.

Claim to fame: Two-time Defensive Player of the Year at UConn.

Has a skill: Thabeet was the best shot blocker in college and still has the instincts to make an impact as a rim protector.

Needs to drill: Man-to-man defense in the post has never been Thabeet's strong suit. His lack of strength causes him to lose his position frequently and get knocked to the floor. But, at 26, it's asking a lot from Thabeet to develop that aspect of his game at this point in his career.

What they're saying: “For a guy 7-3, you don't normally say athletic. But he's pretty athletic. He gets up and down the court. He can move pretty good.” — Scott Brooks.

Daniel Orton

Age: 22

Position: Center

Height: 6-10

Weight: 255

College: Kentucky

Last played: Orlando

2011-12 stats: 2.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.6 bpg, 11.7 mpg.

Claim to fame: Once shattered a backboard in high school.

Has a skill: Rebounding might be Orton's biggest strength. But he's also a hard-nosed player who isn't afraid of contact on either end and can use his imposing frame to clog up the paint on defense.

Needs to drill: Footwork. Orton has the tools to be a classic back-to-the-basket center, but he must first polish his offensive game. That starts with going back to the basics and working on the fundamentals.


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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