It wasn’t as dramatic of a roster shake-up as last year for the Oklahoma City Thunder around the trade deadline, but they managed a trade for Denver Nuggets guard Randy Foye in exchange for D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak, and two second-round draft picks.
The implication of Foye, a 10-year veteran who’s been averaging just six points in 20 minutes of action per game in Denver this season, is rooted in floor spacing and the Thunder’s ongoing need for some legitimacy at shooting guard. That job was respectfully filled by Thabo Sefolosha for over five seasons until he was traded in 2014. His replacement and young equivalent, Andre Roberson, was called up as a starter in 67 games for the Thunder last season. And as of last season’s trade deadline frenzy, the Thunder also have Dion Waiters in the mix.
Russell Westbrook just doesn’t make it easy for anyone at the shooting guard position. His savage presence as lead guard practically fills the role of both point and shooting guard (more on that in a bit). This is why Sefolosha and Roberson have been the types of candidates for the role — you might as well a. have a legitimate perimeter defender to accommodate all of the offense already in place and b. add to the advantageous length of the roster (Sefolosha/Roberson are both 6’7).
I’m not suggesting that Randy Foye is swooping in as Oklahoma City’s long-awaited savior at shooting guard, but I do think that he has acknowledgeable value as a solid scorer. Foye ranked 10th in the league with 189 threes made two seasons ago. His three-point shooting is awfully down this season at under 30 percent, but he’s still not a guy that you can leave open. He’s not a specialist like Anthony Morrow. Foye is a playmaking guard in his own right with the ball in his hands, and he can make plays as consistently as Dion Waiters with more systemic qualities. That’s not to say that Foye will ever be running the Thunder offense with great regularity, though he deserves a stable role off the bench.
You have to get in where you fit in with the Thunder since Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant occupy the heavy duty offensive load. What separates the Thunder from the ultimate adversary in the Golden State Warriors is the production of their fillers. Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter aren’t enough to combat the likes of the defending champs in bench productivity.
Foye brings spacing and playmaking capabilities that can’t go to waste or get lost in the sauce of the star-studded Thunder framework. Billy Donovan, much like Foye’s college coach Jay Wright at Villanova, is a known proponent of multiple guard sets. I imagine that he plans to use Foye readily, which has a subtle yet fully relevant impact on how the Thunder can improve during this last stretch of the season.