Thunder Gearing Up for Summer League

In Oklahoma City, basketball never stops.

Over the past month the Thunder has had players in and out of the practice facility working hard, from veterans to young players and over the weekend, the rookies it added to the roster. Many of the older players on the roster have been at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center to work on their own games while also mentoring those with less experience. Many of the Thunder’s rookies and young veterans have been gearing up for Summer League, which starts in Orlando on Sunday, July 7th and runs through Friday, July 12th.

The games at Orlando’s Amway Center will feature four 10-minute quarters, and no player can foul out. Standings will be kept over the first five days of the league, and teams will play their fifth and final game against the opponent closest to them in the standings. The Thunder kicks off its schedule on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET against the Indiana Pacers.

With only a week between the 2013 NBA Draft and Summer League, players have an opportunity to immediately get out onto the court and give the coaching staff an idea of where they are as players heading into the rest of the offseason. General Manager Sam Presti believes that Summer League is a valuable tool to help players understand what is expected of them and a chance for them to put game action on film in order to better continue their development process.

“It’s really used as a baseline for us to get a sense of where everybody is and it’s certainly the starting point,” Presti said. “Our experience over time with young players is that everybody has their own timeline. Everyone has their own development arc.”

“We’re trying to figure out the best way to build that program and build that arc is really the responsibility of us and then the player to execute that plan,” Presti explained.

The Thunder’s rookies, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Grant Jerrett immediately got to work after Saturday’s introductory press conference. With assistance from coaches and staffers, they joined young players like Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb and veterans like Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins as players who have utilized the assets the organization has to offer for players to get better. As the newcomers become assimilated into the Thunder’s culture, players who were already on the roster can help that integration process immensely.

“We have had a tremendous presence from our current roster players that have been in town and working incredibly hard this last month,” Presti said. “It’s always fun to watch the new players from the draft interact with the guys that are currently on the roster.”

Not only is Summer League a great opportunity for young Thunder players to put their skills to the test in a true game setting, but it’s also a chance to form bonds and build camaraderie amongst the players who will be on the roster for training camp. As the Summer League squad gears up for five games over the course of six days, it will spend this week working together and with the coaching staff in order to be well prepared to play with one another.

“It just builds a lot of chemistry for Summer League and for next season,” Jones explained. “We’re going to be on the floor together a lot so learning how to play with each other is going to better the team.”

For those who have been in the Thunder’s program and participated in Summer League already, next week will be a chance to further improve in all facets. As for the rookies, the Thunder won’t judge the performance of its players from a statistical standpoint, but rather use the playing time as an introduction to the organization’s style on and off the floor.

“We’ve never put too much stock into summer league performances other than trying to accomplish basically a general understanding of the system and the expectations that come along with playing for the team,” Presti said. “Not just on the floor but also preparation, recovery, attention to detail and how we want to carry ourselves.”