2022-23 Thunder player grades: Isaiah Joe
The 2022-23 Oklahoma City Thunder’s season ended with the play-in tournament loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, which means it’s time for reflection.
Being one of the biggest overachievers in the league, the Thunder finished with a 40-42 record after being predicted by many to have high lottery odds.
Now that the season is in the books, let’s go back and evaluate all 19 players who suited up for the Thunder this season. Grades will be handed out to every player in terms of what their expectations were heading into the season and how they lived up to them.
The seventh player in this installment is Isaiah Joe, who went from late training camp addition to a key rotation piece for the Thunder.
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(Editor’s note: We are starting individual grades for all players from the 2022-23 Oklahoma City Thunder. To access other reviews as part of this ongoing series, click here.)
40.9% 3-point shooting
82% free-throw shooting
True-shooting percentage: 62.6%
3-point attempt rate: 77.6%
Usage rate: 17.7%
Win shares: 3.8
Drawn charges: 20
Significant Percentile Finishes:
P&R ball-handler: 87.7 percentile
P&R roll man: 85.5 percentile
Spot up: 76.2 percentile
Handoff: 95 percentile
Off screen: 96.5 percentile
Transition: 57.4 percentile
2023-24: $2 million (non-guaranteed)
2024-25: $2.2 million (team option)
The Thunder continue to do an excellent job finding gems, and Joe is the latest example.
Following his release from the Philadelphia 76ers late in training camp, the Thunder swooped in and added the 23-year-old shooter to their roster. Joe eventually made it onto the 15-man roster and the rest was history.
Joe’s breakout moment occurred in late October against the Dallas Mavericks, where 15 quick points helped complete the comeback overtime win. This was the first ‘oh crap’ moment of Joe’s season, where he showed flashes of being a legit rotation piece for OKC.
By the end of November, Joe became a fixture in OKC’s rotation and slowly saw his role increase throughout the season — his minutes increased each month. After shooting just 34.9% from 3 on 2.5 attempts in his first two seasons with the Sixers, Joe shot a career-high 40.9% from 3 on 5.4 attempts this season.
Joe was not only a legit outside weapon for OKC though — throughout the season, especially in games with notable absences — he showed flashes of being a competent ball-handler who can create his own shot. He also played hard on defense and was sneakily athletic with several poster dunks.
Suppose Joe can continue to develop in these other areas of his game so he isn’t just a one-dimensional player. In that case, he has a legit shot at continuing to be a trusted rotation player for the Thunder who can spot-start when needed without a serious dip in quality.
If Joe’s development stagnates and his 3-point shot regresses to the mean, then the Thunder still found a good weapon off the bench who can be a microwave scorer if his 3-point ball is falling on any particular night.
There’s no doubt about it, Joe was remarkable this season and was one of the best success stories of the Thunder. Picked up from the scrap heat late in training camp, he blew out any reasonable expectations that were set about him.
Joe quickly showed that he can be more than just a third-string player who can shoot from outside.
There’s no denying that the 3-point shooting is legit with Joe, it’s now about him hitting at a similar clip as he did this season. Expecting him to be a 40%-plus shooter on 5-plus attempts for the following seasons is a little unrealistic. I expect some regression, but even if that’s the case, he should continue to be a 3-point threat from pure talent.
In fact, you could argue that Joe regressed a bit during this past season — especially if you look at his All-Star break splits. Before the All-Star break, Joe shot an incredible 45.2% from 3; following the break, this dramatically dipped to 34.8%.
Even if Joe’s true shooting abilities lie with the latter’s numbers, that’s still a significant mark to have for someone who can develop in other areas of his game to compensate for not being an actual 45%-plus 3-point shooter.
As mentioned earlier, he showed flashes of developing other areas in his game so that he’s solely not a catch-and-shoot guy (although, he’s a really good C&S guy since he shot 42.3% on 4.2 3-pointers doing that). Considering Joe is only 23 years old, there’s still room to grow for him — especially considering this was his first actual season with consistent playing time.
Joe’s moneymaker will always be his 3-point shot — nearly 78% of his shot attempts were from outside this season — but he’s shown enough evidence to show that he can also be competent with the ball in his hands and not be a traffic cone on defense like the stereotypical 3-point shooter off the bench usually is.
This could be especially useful in playoff atmospheres. If Joe can avoid being the target of opposing teams, then he can stay on the floor and provide lethal spacing. Considering he averaged 20 minutes in both of OKC’s play-in tournament games, I feel optimistic about that being the case.
Final Grade: A+