Summer League a Chance to Grow

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@thunder-nba.com

For a week straight, young Thunder players will get a chance to be a part of an environment that is all about basketball at its purest.

Thunder players took a few weeks away from the game after the season ended, but many have already been back at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center recently to keep their games sharp over the summer. Less than a week removed from the 2014 NBA Draft, the Thunder’s youngest wave of players spent the past week readying itself for the 2014 Summer League in Orlando, which begins this Saturday at the Amway Center.

At the helm this year will be Tulsa 66ers Head Coach Darko Rajakovic, and he will be charged with coaching players on both the Thunder and 66ers rosters from last season, along with newcomers to the team this summer.

Most notably, the Thunder will feature defending Summer League MVP Jeremy Lamb, who helped lead the Thunder to the first-ever official Summer League title last season when the team went 5-0. Alongside Lamb will be his third-year teammate Perry Jones, along with second-year men Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Grant Jerrett. The Thunder’s 2014 draft class of Mitch McGary, Josh Huestis and Semaj Christon will also be in attendance in Orlando.

Summer League is an incredible opportunity for first, second and third year Thunder players to continue getting integrated into the Thunder’s offensive and defensive schemes. Real game experience is valuable for all players, particularly young ones who are still finding their niche or role within the Thunder’s team structure. Having the opportunity to face high-level, external competition for an entire week in a setting focused solely on basketball is extremely valuable to Thunder players, coaches and staff alike.

Integrating young players into the core of the roster has been the lifeblood of the Thunder organization since its arrival in Oklahoma City, and Summer League is often an integral first step in the process. Players like Reggie Jackson have shone brightly in Summer League competition, using their performances as a baseline and a platform for continued growth heading into the upcoming season. While the Thunder’s core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are joined by veterans, young players like the ones competing at Summer League will be relied upon throughout the season to contribute.

While in Orlando, the Thunder will play five games over seven days, with two practices scheduled in between. The Thunder’s first game, a matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies, is at 4:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, July 5th. The Thunder will then face off against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. CT and the Brooklyn Nets at 6:00 p.m. CT on Monday.

After a day off on Tuesday, the Thunder squares off against the Indiana Pacers at 2:00 p.m CT on Wednesday. The Thunder will then have Thursday off prior to Friday’s “Championship Day”, when the Thunder will play its final game of the week based on what place it finishes in throughout the week. The other teams competing in Summer League next week will be the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and the host team, the Orlando Magic. 

Standings throughout the week determine the seeding leading up to Championship Day. Eight total points are awarded during each game during the week. A team gets four points for winning the game, and a point for each quarter won during the game.

NBA TV will broadcast all of the games in Orlando, and thunder.nba.com will provide post-game recaps, videos and interviews throughout the week. The Thunder's first game is on Saturday July 5th, and will air on NBA TV at 4:00 p.m. CT.

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