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Thunder’s Darius Bazley confident he can handle the problems every NBA rookie faces

Darius Bazley

There comes a time for every successful first-year NBA player when he hits the proverbial rookie wall. Those guys are lucky compared to the vast majority of rookies, too. Most first-year players barely get off the bench, and if they do, normally haven’t made enough of a consistently positive impact to have avoided the rookie wall in the first place.

It’s still unclear which of those distinctions will apply to Darius Bazley during his debut campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But due to his unconventional path to the NBA, that included a stint interning at New Balance while prepping for the draft, Bazley seems confident he’ll be able to deal with whatever obstacles he faces in 2019-20.

“There’s going to be times where you hit a roadblock in the league where you’re not getting the minutes you wanted or say you’re injured and you’re not able to play and you don’t know how to handle that,” he said, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “I do.”

Bazley, one of the top high-school players in the class of 2018, originally committed to play college basketball at Syracuse. He opted against reporting to the Orange around this time last year, though, instead choosing to cut his teeth in the G-League before entering the 2019 NBA Draft. Shortly thereafter, Bazley decided to skip out on the G-League, too, eventually signing a $1 million “internship” with New Balance, now his endorser.

The No. 23 overall pick of this year’s draft, Darius Bazley will likely begin the season riding the bench for Oklahoma City. But when injuries, a lineup change, or a full embrace of the youth movement lead to him getting his number called with the Thunder, don’t be surprised when Bazley proves ready.