By Josh Cohen
July 3, 2017
ORLANDO – Perimeter shooting was Josh Huestis’ primary weakness during his college years at Stanford and early on in the G-League. A late first round draft pick of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2014, Huestis has worked extensively to become a more reliable 3-point shooter.
The 6’7, 230-pound versatile forward continues to make progress in this facet of his game. He shot nearly 39 percent from 3-point range this past season for the OKC Blue (31 percent prior two years) and showed no hesitation in Monday’s summer league contest.
Huestis made four of his eight 3-point attempts and delivered an outstanding 26-point, seven-rebound performance in the Thunder’s 99-87 victory over the New York Knicks.
“Reps, honestly just getting in the gym and working with the coaches and just seeing it go in a bunch of times in practices,” Huestis said about his improved long-range shooting. “It raises my confidence level. I think I’ve always been a good 3-point shooter. It’s just my confidence has caught up to that and it’s showing statistically.”
Marveled at for his adaptability, defensive potential and high basketball IQ coming out of college, Huestis now believes he’s ready to take the next step in his pro career.
“It all starts defensively trying to show that I have the lateral quickness and reaction time to be able to guard smaller guys and then the strength to guard bigger guys as well,” he said.
OKC as a whole was terrific from beyond the arc (13-of-25). Markel Brown, who finished with 20 points, shot 3-of-4 from downtown and Vince Hunter knocked down both of his 3-point attempts.
Huestis’ G-League teammate the last two years, Dakari Johnson, has also shined in summer league action. While not a superior athlete or the spryest, Johnson is very skilled and has tremendous size. He recorded 21 points and seven rebounds in Monday’s win. OKC’s coaches even had Johnson handle the ball a bit and tested his playmaking abilities.
“Coach Mark and the coaching staff want me to expand my game.” Johnson said. “Just try different things. That’s what summer league is for.”
Chasson Randle led New York with 20 points (6-of-8 from field, 3-of-5 from long distance) and Damyean Dotson chipped in with 13 points. The Knicks chose Dotson 44th overall in last month’s draft.
OKC outrebounded New York, 38-30, with 16 of those boards coming on the offensive glass. The Thunder also dished out more assists and committed fewer turnovers than the Knicks.