‘We trust him on anybody’: Cason Wallace earns praise for defensive ability

Cason Wallace was highly touted as a defender entering the NBA, and the 10th pick once again flashed that ability to help the Oklahoma City Thunder to a win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Wallace recorded six points, four assists, four steals and two rebounds in the 126-117 victory over the Hawks on Monday as the Thunder improved to 4-3 on the season. He finished by shooting 3-of-6 from the field in 24 minutes off the bench.

He was mostly matched up with Trae Young and Dejounte Murray in the contest. He held them, collectively, to just two points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field as their primary defender.

“He was good tonight,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “Obviously, he is guarding those guys. We trust him on anybody, even at this young point of his career. He is a great weak-side defender. He got a couple of the steals there.”

Wallace has earned praise in the early going for his ability to defend and react to plays on the fly. He already has a great understanding of how the Thunder want to play on both sides of the ball and has been among the early standouts.

He has drawn some rather tough defensive assignments. In addition to picking up on Young and Murray, Wallace has guarded the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. He likes those matchups.

“It shows the coaches trust me and my abilities, and my teammates, as well,” Wallace said. “If they thought I couldn’t do it, they would have put me on somebody else, but they’re putting me on some of their main (options).”

Wallace is averaging eight points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists on 68.8% shooting from the field. He is off to a hot start from beyond the arc, converting 6-of-11 attempts in the early going, and has flourished spotting up in the corner.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his game has been on defense, though. The team already trusts him to guard some of the most lethal offensive players, a challenge that Wallace welcomes this year.

“They’re just letting me be free on the defensive side, letting me be me and playing the passing lanes, guarding people 94 feet,” Wallace said. “That is something I take pride in, and they’re giving me the freedom to do that.”

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire