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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Clemente Almanza

Player grades: How all 5 OKC Thunder players did in 2023 FIBA World Cup’s group play

The 2023 FIBA World Cup has moved to the quarterfinal stage, which means only eight teams remain as single-elimination contests are about to begin.

The Oklahoma City Thunder entered the 32-team tournament with five players playing for three teams — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort for Canada; Josh Giddey and Jack White for Australia; and Davis Bertans for Latvia.

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After group play, that number has dwindled to three players on Canada and Latvia. Australia failed to advance to the final eight teams with a 3-2 group play record.

With the first two rounds of group play over, let’s look back and hand out a grade for all five Thunder players and how they did in their country’s five games.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A-plus

  • 5 games: 23.8 points – 6.6 rebounds – 5.2 assists – 52.7% shooting – 33.3% 3P shooting – 89.5% free-throw shooting

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to build on the career season he just enjoyed last year with similar levels of efficient scoring in the FIBA World Cup.

The 25-year-old has arguably been the best player through two rounds in the tournament, leading Canada to a 4-1 group record. His game has really translated well to the FIBA level. He’s averaged 23.8 points on 52.7% shooting. The ability to get to the free-throw line has also been there for him with 7.6 trips a game thus far.

After essentially eliminating the 3-point shot from his diet last season, Gilgeous-Alexander brought it back during this tournament. He has averaged over four 3-point attempts at a respectable 33.3% clip.

Sprinkle in a few clutch moments to seal important wins and third-quarter explosions for Gilgeous-Alexander, his summer has been very reminiscent of what he did this past season for the Thunder.

Overall, we’ve really learned nothing new about Gilgeous-Alexander. It shouldn’t be too shocking to see him play at this level. He continues to be one of the best players in the world as he enjoys his prime.

Josh Giddey: A-minus

Graham Denholm/Getty Images
  • 5 games: 19.4 points – 6 assists – 5 rebounds – 54.2% shooting – 16.7% 3P shooting – 65.4% free-throw shooting

Although Australia’s campaign ended in disappointment as it failed to qualify for the quarterfinals, Josh Giddey’s individual performance was extremely encouraging.

Giddey was dubbed the main ball-handler for Australia, and he was exceptional in the new role.

The biggest sign of improvement was Giddey’s ability to get to the free-throw line at a decent clip. He averaged 5.2 attempts in nearly 28 minutes of action. If he can carry that rate to the NBA, he’ll unlock a new level of scoring potential.

The next step is to turn into a more efficient free-throw shooter. While it’s exciting to see him get to the line so often, his 65.4% free-throw shooting leaves much to desire.

The 20-year-old had much more on his plate for Australia than he’s had in his first two seasons with the Thunder. He took advantage of the opportunity and was Australia’s leading scorer due to his constant drives to the basket.

It will not be a clear 1-for-1 replacement, but if Giddey can carry this into the regular season while shooting a higher percentage from the free-throw line, then maybe that’ll be enough to overcome his lack of an outside shot.

Lu Dort: B

FIBA Basketball
  • 3 games: 9 points – 5 rebounds – 2 assists – 35.7% shooting – 29.4% 3P shooting – 40% free-throw shooting

Lu Dort was limited to just three group games as he missed two dealing with soreness. He came off the bench as a defensive specialist for Canada, but he was part of its closing lineups during close contests.

Dort struggled with his shooting in his three games, but he was part of a 1-2 defensive punch with Dillon Brooks for Canada that led its defense.

Overall, Dort looked like Dort during the group games for Canada. His elite perimeter defense was a valuable tool for them and he wasn’t afraid to get his shots up even though he might’ve been in a bit of a shooting slump.

I wouldn’t be too concerned over the poor percentages since a 3-game sample size is almost useless, but his 5.7 3-point attempts in 25 minutes pretty much align with how he plays in the NBA, too.

Davis Bertans: B-minus

  • 5 games: 12.4 points – 3.6 rebounds – 1.2 assists – 37.8% shooting – 37.5% 3P shooting – 92.9% free-throw shooting

Latvia has been one of the better stories throughout the World Cup as it surprisingly advanced to the quarterfinals with a 4-1 record.

Davis Bertans has played a vital role in its Cinderella run. He has provided Latvia with high-volume 3-point shooting in its 3-point shooting happy offense.

In 25 minutes, he’s averaged 8 3-point attempts at a respectable 37.5% shooting. He hasn’t been afraid to let it fly from deep despite a poor season last year with the Dallas Mavericks.

If he can bring this type of shooting for the Thunder next season, he’ll play himself into being a valuable trade chip if OKC elects to go that route.

Jack White: C-minus

Kelly Defina/Getty Images
  • 5 games: 2.2 points – 1.6 rebounds – 0.6 assists – 83.3% shooting – 100% 3P shooting – 0% free-throw shooting

When the Thunder signed Jack White, he was a bit of a mystery man as he’s had limited NBA experience. His FIBA World Cup run didn’t provide much clarity: He saw limited action.

After Jock Landale suffered an ankle sprain, White managed to sneak onto Australia’s roster. He appeared in all five games but averaged less than eight minutes, which means it’s hard to draw major conclusions from such a small sample size.

When he was on the court though, he looked like a decent athletic wing/big who can play off the ball. On the ball though, he struggled to generate shots for either himself or others.

Overall, not much could really be learned about White from his stint with the Boomers this summer. Although it’s a bit discouraging to see he couldn’t carve out playing time for Australia, which isn’t really the best sign of his odds to be on the Thunder by the time the regular season starts.

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