2022-23 Thunder player grades: Lindy Waters III
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 past 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 13th player in this installment is Lindy Waters III, who worked his way from a two-way spot to a full-time NBA contract this season.
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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.)
35.8% 3-point shooting
80% free-throw shooting
True-shooting percentage: 57.3%
Usage rate: 15.5%
Win shares: 1.1
3-point attempt rate: 91%
Significant Percentile Finishes:
Off screen: 99.6 percentile
Spot up: 65.6 percentile
Handoff: 68.8 percentile
2023-24: $1.9 million (team option)
In last year’s exit interviews, Waters III mentioned how big of an accomplishment it’d be for him to sign a full-time NBA deal. He mentioned how that’s one of his biggest goals after working his way from an undrafted free agent to a two-way player last season.
Well, that goal was reached on Feb. 27. After being on a two-way deal for nearly two seasons, Waters III was signed to a standard NBA deal.
The 25-year-old worked his way into earning the contract as he provided the Thunder with 3-point shooting off the bench. In his second season in OKC, he provided decent scoring.
Limited to 41 games due to contract limitations — two-way player can only be activated for 50 games a season — Waters III had a solid sophomore campaign.
Waters III continued to show that he can be a legit 3-point option. He shot 35.8% from 3 on four attempts in 13 minutes. This was similar to last season’s clip of 36.3% from 3 on 5.8 attempts. 87.3% (!) of his career shots are from beyond the arc.
When he wasn’t with the Thunder, Waters III spent time with the G League’s OKC Blue, where he was one of their top-scoring options. In 13 regular season games, he averaged 16.4 points on 48% shooting, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 37% from 3 on 7.1 attempts. In 10 Showcase Cup games, he averaged 14.4 points on 42.3% shooting, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 41.3% from 3 on eight attempts.
Impressive numbers that go to show Waters III is a legit NBA talent as he dominated G League competition.
Waters III outperformed his expectations this season. The 3-point shooting is legit for him, it’s now about avoiding being labeled a one-trick pony and improving other areas of his game if he wants to stay in the NBA for the long run.
Despite the successful season, Waters III will need to earn his roster spot this upcoming season with the Thunder, as they’ll likely add more premium rookies. If push comes to shove, he is likely one of the first players on the chopping block — even if his two seasons have been impressive.
It’s easy to overlook Waters III due to his role and expectations, but he had a tremendous second season. After nearly two seasons of solid work, he was converted to a full-time NBA deal.
Who knows what Waters III’s long-term future is with the Thunder — especially with the team adding another rookie class — he could continue to fall on the totem pole due to factors out of his control. If that happens, he could be one of the first players who could lose their roster spot.
Regardless, Waters III has been a nice find by the Thunder. After going undrafted in 2020, the local Oklahoman played his way onto OKC following a brief stint in independent basketball leagues.
In his two seasons with the Thunder, Waters III has shown he can fill the vital role of being an outside shooter who can provide quality minutes off of the bench. He might be limited in other facets of the game, but with how valuable shooting is, that skill can keep him in the league for a long time.
At 25 years old, Waters III has likely tapped out his ceiling as a third-string outside shooting guard, but if that’s the case, then that player profile could buy him a ton of time in the NBA.
Final Grade: B-