Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Darius Bazley took a shot to the knee in Sunday’s matchup against the Boston Celtics that took him out of the game after only 3 minutes of play. Bazley never returned, and news broke on Monday afternoon that he suffered a right knee bone bruise, and he will be re-evaluated in 4-6 weeks.
The loss of Bazley hits the Thunder hard in certain areas. First off, he’s averaging 17.2 minutes per game. Secondly, while he’s not been a consistent scoring threat, his defense has been all-around solid. Lastly, we are entering the most crucial portion of the season—Post-All Star Break—which could be spent further developing the young, inexperienced rookie.
With Bazley being forced to sit, Oklahoma City has a few options. They could search for a temporary replacement in the buyout market—Dragan Bender or John Henson (if he gets waived) come to mind—but I think the best bet is giving those minutes to Mike Muscala
Muscala did not play in the Thunder’s last 4 games, and he played a mere 6 minutes combined in the previous 2, which is weird considering he shot 11-of-16 (68.8%) overall from 3 in the 3 outings before that.
Regardless of how much he has played lately, he has proven himself to be a more and more reliable shooter as of late, and now that Bazley is out, he is the right choice for stepping into those minutes.
He has not played the power forward position very much at all this season alongside Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel, instead serving as a backup center whenever one of those—if not both—has been out due to injury.
Still, if OKC does not want to sign someone from the buyout market, the only other option would be to play extremely small lineups—with Hamidou Diallo or Abdel Nader at the 4-spot—which would likely be too much of a deviation from their norm.
Mike Muscala was originally brought on to this team to help spread the floor and knock down open shots from deep, and now that the minutes are seemingly available, I say give him a shot and see what he can really do.
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