It’s been a few weeks now since the under-the-radar deadline-adjacent trade that saw the Detroit Pistons send Svi Mykhailiuk and a second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Hamidou Diallo. In truth, it seems the fans of both franchises are pretty happy with how things have turned out as the players are providing an element the team had previously lacked. In Detroit’s case, Diallo is serving as a high-level switchable defender and in OKC’s case, Svi is delivering some much-needed spacing as a perimeter-oriented scoring threat. The two teams will meet today in a battle of shockingly competent bad teams.
When: 7 p.m. EST
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons -3
If you asked me what would most shock me in a game following Detroit getting stomped by more than 40 points, it would be Vegas saying you’re the favorites. This is honestly only the second game I can recall the Pistons being favored in all season, and made me question just what the hell is going on in OKC as from afar the team seemed feisty all season.
Sure enough, the Thunder have dropped five of its past six games. In that time, they are an NBA-worst -20.6 net rating thanks to the second-worst defense and the second-worst offense in that span. The Thunder have played good teams — Grizzlies, Celtics, Mavericks, Suns and Blazers with their lone win being against the Raptors.
Perhaps that is because the Thunder have gone full youth movement with Svi Mykhailiuk serving as the elder statesman. Svi has played in 143 games entering tonight, while the other four starts have 147 games under their belt combined. That includes the enigma known as Aleksej Pokusevski (Poku for short) and fellow rookie Theo Maledon.
The Thunder not only sent veterans packing via trades or simply shutting them down, they are depleted because of injury. Darius Bazley has missed 13 games, superstar guard in the making Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has missed the past six games, Lu Dort has missed four, and now Isaiah Roby is in concussion protocol.
We’re sure to see some funky lineups out there featuring players like Kenrich Williams, Piston for five hours Tony Bradley and Justin Jackson.
For the Pistons, this could be a welcome palate cleanser after the absolute horror show they displayed against the New York Knicks. Even the pro-tanking crowd probably wouldn’t mind seeing the team shake off that loss and taking it to the Thunder. And in case you’re worried, even the Thunder in this state of disrepair and free fall likely can’t catch the Pistons in the tanking battle.
The six-game deficit is likely too large to make up with just 23 games to go. If Detroit somehow manages to run the table among all the teams with as many or fewer wins than Oklahoma remaining on its schedule, the Pistons would only win six games the rest of the season.
Detroit Pistons (14-35)
Saben Lee, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee
Oklahoma City Thunder (20-29)
Theo Maledon, Svi Mykahiliuk, Kenrich Williams, Aleksej Pokusevski, Moses Brown
Question of the Game
What is the final stat line for the great Poku tonight?