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Oklahoma City Thunder: Cut day is approaching, and four players are vying for one spot

Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins, Hollis Thompson and Andy Rautins are competing for the 15th and final spot on OKC roster. The deadline for Thunder coach Scott Brooks is 4 p.m. Monday.
By Darnell Mayberry Published: October 25, 2012

The exhibition season has come to an end, and the Oklahoma City Thunder now has a decision to make.

No, not whether to re-sign James Harden.

The defending Western Conference champion must resolve the matter of how to round out its roster.

By 4 p.m. on Monday, the Thunder must whittle down its roster to 15 men. Four players — Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins, Hollis Thompson and Andy Rautins — have competed for the 15th and final spot throughout a month long camp that coach Scott Brooks has deemed the toughest of his tenure.

After seven preseason games, it appears the battle has boiled down to two: Orton, the 6-foot-10 center who starred at Bishop McGuinness, and Liggins, a rugged 6-6 swingman who's turned heads with unwavering heart and hustle.

The final decision will be an interesting one by OKC's brain trust. Brooks loves players like Liggins who play hard and excel at little things. Thunder general manager Sam Presti, on the other hand, has a history of taking a flier on promising big men projects at a discount rate, or players like Orton.

If playing time this preseason is any indication, Liggins has the leg up. Of the four training camp invitees, Liggins played in the most games (five of seven, with two starts) and averaged the most minutes (20.6). He averaged 4.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals while shooting 59 percent.

“You got to give the guy a lot of credit,” Brooks said. “He's making the decision hard on all of us. But I think he's putting himself in a position where you know what he brings every night. He brings toughness, he brings energy, he brings enthusiasm for the game and he wants to do the right thing.”

Throughout training camp, Brooks repeatedly has praised Orton's offensive rebounding and presence in the paint. Yet Orton appeared in just one exhibition game despite the Thunder playing the first four without starting center Kendrick Perkins. Orton scored 13 points with three rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot in 19 minutes in that contest.

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