Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Theo Maledon is already proving to be perhaps the biggest robbery of the entire 2020 NBA Draft. Caught with the No. 34 overall pick in the second round, the 19-man years has been one of the most impressive players of his entire class.
While he’s been surprisingly good for the most part, former NBA star Tony Parker tried to tell us how close Maledon was back in November before his rookie campaign began. From one French point guard to another, Parker thought the Thunder rookie should have been selected much higher, saying: “A player like that should have been in the top ten.”
Playing in Oklahoma City, Maledon gained the experience few others in his rookie class gained early in their career. At the end of January, he took over as the team’s starting point keeper as he hasn’t looked back. The French point guard has played the scoring seventh minutes of any league rookie this season, giving him plenty of time on the pitch as he adjusts to the speed of the NBA game. Barely 19, Maledon will likely eclipse 50 starts by the end of his rookie season next week.
When you compare Maledon to other players in his class, there is reason to be worthy of a lottery pick based on his rookie campaign. Standing at 6-foot-5, he’s a giant playmaker who is also comfortable playing off the ball.
Looking at Maledon’s total production this season, he’s near the top of his class in almost every statistical category.
Offensively, he’s seventh among rookies in points and sixth in both threes and free throws made. Additionally, Maledon recently made his way into the all-time top ten in 3 points by a teenage rookie in NBA history. He appeared in a game earlier this season in which he beat six threes, setting a rookie Thunder record which was later broken by rookie teammate Aleksej Pokusevski. Nonetheless, Maledon converted on more than 3 points total of any rookie in Oklahoma City history, overtaking Alex Abrines earlier this month.
Maledon has also shown his ability to be an all-round playmaker, earning the third most assists this season of any freshman.
Defensively, Maledon uses his 6-foot-9 winspan to do a variety of things to help the team. He is eighth in his class in interceptions and 11th in blocks among guards. He’s also a solid rebounder, especially for his position, knocking down the 11th most rebounding of any rookie (3rd among guards).
Maledon is not only impressive when you compare him to his rookie class, but also when you look at his numbers alongside his Thunder teammates. Since becoming a starter at the end of January, he has led the team in total assists and steals while being second in total points. During that span, Maledon averaged 11.6 points, 3.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds in just over 30 minutes per game while shooting 33.0 percent from depth.
Maledon has landed five games with over 20 points as a rookie, including one with a career-high 33 points. That particular performance made him the second Thunder rookie to score 30 or more points in a game (Russell Westbrook). He has also played 15 games with at least five rebounds and 18 games with five or more assists.
It may be too early to really say who the biggest steals in the 2020 NBA Draft are, but based on the sample from the 2020-21 season, Theo Maledon is clearly at the top of the list.