Oklahoma

Darius Bazley flashes the proper role for himself vs Miami

The Oklahoma City Thunder fell back against the Miami Heat on track after the OKC Thunder came back from a 21-point deficit in the contest on Wednesday. In this game, the OKC Thunder Darius Bazley played a fantastic role in this game which leaves Thunder fans with a bittersweet feeling.

For Darius Bazley, the writing for his Oklahoma City future seems to be on the wall after an inconsistent and disappointing game has plagued his career since he was first-round selected in 2019. However, he was never placed in a beneficial role for his abilities up to this point in his NBA career.

Darius Bazley shows potential, a more defined role, in a bittersweet game against the Miami Heat

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault made sure to shake up his starting lineup again Wednesday against the Miami Heat by introducing Darius Bazley into the top five for the first time all season, after failing in the last two seasons was a mainstay of the group.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s ankle injury prompted this decision as the OKC Thunder will be big for a “week-to-week” schedule without their key rotation. This gives Bazley, an upcoming restricted free agent this summer, another opportunity to carve out a role after seeing a couple of DNP CDs last week.

Against Miami, Bazley scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block while shooting 57 percent from the floor. It’s not just the stat line that catches the eye in his 30-minute season-high, it’s the role he played to compile the stats that the fanbase and organization want to see more of.

In 206 games of his NBA career, including 118 starts, Bazley averaged nine points, five rebounds, nearly a block and one assist per game. Within the arc, Bazley shoots only 40 percent off the ground and 30 percent off the bottom in his career.

His work and the roster crunching the Thunder face in the upcoming offseason all point to Sam Presti not securing a contract extension with Darius Bazley.

However, if he can duplicate his role against the Miami Heat, Bazley has a future in this league.

The former New Balance intern has excellent skills with his shot blocking ability and some of the best toggled defenses which showed for OKC last night as they slammed Bazley down to Bam and Tyler Herro on Wednesday, with the forward from Thunder provided a lot of resistance against Bam, an area where the Bricktown boys usually fight.

What’s holding Darius Bazley back is his offensive end. Usually camps in the corner or makes stupid turnovers on slow, sloppy rides, which never made sense given his athleticism and potential offensive tools.

Against Miami, Bazley was used as a roll man in the pick-and-roll, cutting the ball, and he even pulled out a floater and more than usual kept the offense flowing with no hesitation or stopping the ball.

That should be his role this season and wherever his career takes him over the next year and beyond. Activity on offense allows Darius Bazley to show his athleticism, he just needs to stay aggressive while playing controlled.

Seeing Darius Bazley thrive on both ends against Miami is a bittersweet moment and has fans wondering why this hasn’t worked for the past three years. Now the question is, can he repeat that feat?

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