Second-year backcourt leads the way in 112-101 preseason win over Nuggets

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The Oklahoma City Thunder started off their preseason campaign with an impressive win over the Denver Nuggets that was highlighted by an even more impressive first quarter.

The Thunder were able to defeat the Nuggets, 112-101, but the results of preseason games don’t matter. What does matter is how good the depleted Thunder starting lineup looked against the fully healthy Nuggets starting lineup.

Backcourt duo Josh Giddey and Tre Mann led the way for the Thunder as they combined to score 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting.

Aaron Wiggins and Jalen Williams also impressed in their preseason debut off of the bench. Here are player grades for all four players.

Josh Giddey: A-


(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

With the Thunder missing three of their top four players in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren and Lu Dort, Giddey stepped up.

The second-year guard was an assist shy of a triple double as he finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.

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But the best part of Giddey’s night was him orchestrating 30 first-quarter points with a depleted roster against a healthy Nuggets team many pencil in as a contender.

The Thunder were the worst offensive team last season and to put up 30 points in the first quarter is an impressive feat.

Giddey’s outside shooting was also a highlight. One of the biggest offseason Thunder storylines was shooting coach Chip Engelland’s impact on Giddey and one preseason game in, the results look good with a 2-of-2 shooting night.

Obviously, it’s way too soon to call things one way or the other with the Giddey and Engelland pairing, but for one night, all things look good.

Tre Mann: A-


Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With so many scorers out for the Thunder, Mann took advantage of the newly-founded scoring opportunities laid at his feet.

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The second-year guard finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting that included going 3-of-6 from three.

Mann was able to score on a variety of ways that showcased his offensive bag skills and ability to create his own offense. Mann’s transformation from a skinny rookie to a more muscular player has been one of the biggest training camp storylines and the added muscle has paid off so far.

Jalen Williams: B


Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The most anticipated rookie debut for the Thunder was Jalen Williams. The Santa Clara guard has been viewed as the most ready-now healthy Thunder rookie.

The 21-year-old had a solid outing in his first preseason game with 10 points and five assists. Williams also finished with five turnovers and three fouls, so those two areas of his game are definitely things to look to improve on next game.

After the game, Williams noted that playing his first preseason game felt like playing NBA 2K and joked that he’s excited he doesn’t have to go to class the next day.

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Aaron Wiggins: B


Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Wiggins needed to work on his outside shot this past offseason if he wanted to stick in the NBA. And to his credit, going a perfect 4-for-4 from three in his first preseason game is quite the first impression to leave.

Wiggins’ agent even noted during the game that the 23-year-old worked on his three-point shot in the offseason and the results definitely show that.

Expecting Wiggins to shoot a perfect 100 percent is unrealistic, but if he can improve on his 30 percent shooting from last season, then he definitely has a place in this league and with the Thunder as a solid role player.

Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire

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