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Mark Daigneault impressed by Cason Wallace’s playoff contributions

As Kyrie Irving sprinted down the court, the multi-time All-Star stopped at the left-wing spot for a pull-up 3-pointer. Cason Wallace contested early enough to block the outside shot attempt.

It was a massive stop during the fourth quarter of a close contest. It also encapsulated the type of contributions Wallace has made for the Thunder.

The defensive stop was one of several the Thunder collected in their 14-point comeback win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 to tie the series at two apiece.

Wallace finished with six points in 19 minutes and was a plus-five. The 20-year-old rookie is OKC’s second-best perimeter defender behind Lu Dort, which means it has the luxury of having at least one out there at all times to match up with either Luka Doncic or Irving.

Despite being a rookie, Wallace has played a major role in the Thunder’s playoff run. He’s been one of the top players off the bench and averages the sixth-most minutes in the postseason.

In the playoffs, Wallace has limited opponents to 14-of-54 (25.9%) shooting when guarded by him, per ESPN. That’s the lowest field goal percentage allowed of any player to defend at least 50 shots in the postseason.

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault spoke highly of Wallace’s performance in the playoffs, noting he hasn’t allowed his youth or inexperience to get the best of him despite the rise of circumstances.

“Just how easy he is to trust as a 20-year-old player in that game,” Daigneault said about Wallace. “He’s guarding Irving, he’s guarding Doncic, he’s banging threes, he’s where he’s supposed to be. He’s just doing exactly what we’re trying to accomplish in the game plan and the system on both ends of the floor.”

Wallace has been a key rotation player for the Thunder. He might see his role increase if Josh Giddey’s minutes gradually decline to zero. In that case, Wallace is a prime candidate to substitute him as a starter and seamlessly fit in with the starting lineup.

Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire