Right now, the Oklahoma City Thunder starting roster looks almost solid. It would be surprising if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort and Chet Holmgren didn’t speak as starters on opening night.
That final starting point in the frontcourt alongside Holmgren is far less clear. More than likely, that spot will be filled by Jeremiah Robinson-Earl or Darius Bazley.
Both of these forwards have experience as a starter at the NBA level, but have different skill sets. It is also important to ensure that the player who fills this role matches Holmgren.
Bazley is a better defensive option when it comes to perimeter-oriented players. Although he gained weight and got stronger in the offseason, he may not be the best candidate next to Holmgren for this purpose. Any team with a large physical area would be a match problem for Holmgren and Bazley’s thinness. With that in mind, they would be fantastic on offense with the versatility they bring on the perimeter.
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On the other hand, Robinson-Earl would likely be a better fit defensively given his frame. He is the same height as Bazley but he is stronger and more physical. He has proven to be a better option defending crosses, while Bazley is better against wings and forwards. Robinson-Earl is a little more limited on the offensive end, but he’s more than capable as a cutter and catching and shooting option from beyond the arc.
In reality, the Thunder will likely give these two guys a chance to prove they’re suitable as a starter alongside Holmgren at some point, but only one can earn the spot on opening night.