By RJ Young
In one of the most raucous summers ever in the NBA, Thunder general manager, Sam Presti, has quietly infused an already talented 50 win team by extending Kevin Durant’s contract, signing another young talent in the post in Cole Aldrich and through draft day trades has added a two NBA veteran guards in Morris Peterson and Daequan Cook.
Both Peterson and Cook have established themselves in the league by becoming good shooters from beyond the arc. Peterson has shot 37.4 percent from behind the three-point line in his 10 year career and has shot 77.1 percent from the free throw line for his career. His biggest asset for the Thunder will undoubtedly be his age and experience as NBA gamer, having played 707 games thus far in his career.
While with the New Orleans Hornets last season Peterson averaged 7.1 points, 2.7 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game.
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Cook has shot 35.8 percent from beyond the three-point line and is a career 84.8 percent free throw shooter in his three years in the NBA as a part of the Miami Heat after coming out of college early in 2007 along with teammate Greg Oden at Ohio State University.
Cook was the 21st overall pick in 2007 and at 23 still has tremendous upside as a crunch time shooter and potential spark off the bench for the Thunder. It is also interesting to note that Cook won the 2009 NBA All-Star Three-Point Shootout.
As a member of the Heat, Cook averaged 5.0 points in 15.4 minutes per game.
Naturally, should both men make the Thunder’s final roster in October; they would provide a necessary service for the team as designated sharp shooters. Along with a need for solid play from a bigger, more athletic frontline the Thunder lacks a brilliant three point shooter.
Last season no player on Oklahoma City’s roster shot better than 40 percent beyond the arc. James Harden led the team in three-point shooting percentage last season with 37.5 percent and Kevin Durant was second with 36.5 percent. The teams itself ranked in the bottom tear of the league in three-point shooting at 24th in the NBA.
This is exactly where Cook believes he can help.
“I want to help them with my shooting, my maturity. I know the game pretty well, playing in the NBA for three years. I’m kind of a veteran on the team to a couple of guys who are only one or two years in and I can help them get through the season also,” Cook recently told NBA.com.
Having a player in the mold of Peterson and Cook on the Thunder roster will bolster their offensive arsenal and allow head coach, Scott Brooks, more flexibility when calling set plays during timeouts and inbounding the ball.
By the nature of their specialty, Cook and Peterson would both benefit from kick out passes from a penetrating Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant. Much of what the Thunder are able to do in their offense is composed around their first and second scoring options of Durant and Westbrook with Jeff Green serving as the defunct third option in last season’s starting five. However, having a constant threat to score at the shooting guard position will open up opposing defenses and lead to more opportunities to spread the floor.
As it stands, the Thunder now have four potential shooting guards in Thabo Sefolosha, James Harden, Peterson and Cook on their roster that are capable of playing significant minutes in the NBA and not all of them are guaranteed to make the roster.
Presti has made a concerted effort to keep an influx of dedicated young talent on the Thunder roster and in the its D-League affiliate, which could lead to either Cook or Peterson being cut from the team in the lead up to the regular season.
It is not out of the question for the Thunder to shuffle these players in the floor such as playing Sefolosha or Peterson at the small forward spot for several minutes a game to spell a tiring Durant, but that is assuming that all four of these players will be on the roster in October.
Training camp may prove crucial for both Peterson and Cook as they will be battling last year’s starting two-guard and defensive specialist, Thabo Sefolosha and the Thunder’s sixth man in Harden for minutes and a potential roster spot.