The 2020 NBA draft class will enter their third season in the league. For many players, this is the most critical season as first-round picks will be eligible for extensions next summer and second-round picks will have a team option on the final year of their rookie deal.
The third season is also a good barometer to see just how much more room for improvement a player has in their overall career. If a player’s development has stagnated, then that likely means they reached the ceiling of what type of player they’ll be. The opposite is also true as a player who continuously improves means he’ll likely have room to grow beyond his third season.
For Oklahoma City Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski, The Rookie Wire’s Cody Taylor listed the 20-year-old as one of the five players with the most to prove this upcoming season from his draft class.
“As far as players on this list, Pokusevski was the lowest-drafted player at No. 17 but still enters the 2022-23 season with equally high expectations after a couple of up-and-down seasons with the Thunder.
He is averaging 7.8 points, five rebounds and 2.2 assists in 106 games to this point. He has shown flashes of what he can be but has yet to put it together on a consistent basis. However, he ended last season on a high note, averaging 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds after March 1.
The team was dealt a tremendous blow with the injury to Chet Holmgren, but it will be looking for others to step up, including Pokusevski. For a team looking to take its next step, OKC will need everyone to show improvement with Pokusevski among them. “
With the Thunder adding three lottery picks to the roster this past summer and likely another high-lottery pick next year, the time is now or never for Pokusevski to prove he belongs to stay in Oklahoma City beyond his rookie deal.
The Chet Holmgren injury will provide someone like Pokusevski a new lease on life with the Thunder, as a healthy Holmgren would’ve probably made it difficult for him to get consistent minutes.
Now that Holmgren’s out, a large vacuum of minutes is up in the air and Pokusevski could be one of the first in line to receive a bulk of those minutes.
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Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire