Adding new talent through the draft is the lifeblood of the Thunder, and each year it brings a feeling of exuberance to the organization.
It was a light-hearted, festive occasion on Saturday at the Thunder Events Center as the Thunder organization officially welcomed its three new rookies – Adams, Andre Roberson and Grant Jerrett into the family. At a mini camp being held for children from the Boys & Girls Club, the Thunder also held a press conference to welcome the trio of young players, and all parties involved had the chance to describe their feelings about the new journey ahead.
Presti was proud to bring in new blood into the program, and the Thunder’s 2013 draft picks, led by Adams, expressed their joy when they found out they were selected by the Thunder.
“It felt like my birthday and Christmas put together,” Adams said. “It isn’t just a basketball team. It’s much more. The community backs them. It’s a huge honor to be putting on the jersey and be representing the whole community.”
It has only been a short period of time since the Thunder’s new men found out that they will be with the team for the foreseeable future, but it’s clear that each player already has an understanding of what the organization stands for. Both the standards of hard work that leaders like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook display on the practice floor and the commitment everyone in the organization brings to the community are clear aspects of being a member of the Thunder.
“The main thing is I feel blessed,” Jerrett said. “Just seeing what this team does, not only on the court, but as well as off the court and how well they’re involved in the community, they’re just being good people and it seems like a good fit for myself to come in and do what I can to make this organization better.”
In the past 48 hours since the draft, the Thunder has helped the three rookies get acclimated to Oklahoma City, to the staff within the organization and to what will be expected of them moving forward. With the addition of Adams, Roberson, Jerrett and Alex Abrines, a Spanish guard who will stay overseas this season, the Thunder has infused the roster with new, complementary talents who will help round out the core that is already in place.
“We’ve always focused on bringing in young players that are motivated to work, motivated to improve and motivated to get better,” Presti said. “That’s the mark of a high performing organization. That’s what we’re striving to accomplish here in Oklahoma City, to continue to layer our team and our roster with like-minded players and people who are willing to put the time in to improve and ultimately help us build a deep and talented group of people going forward.”
As soon as the press conference was finished, the players tried on their jerseys for the first time, helped the campers through their drills and met with members from various departments of the Thunder organization. Adams will wear number 12, Roberson will wear 21 and Jerrett will wear 47. Each player will get the opportunity to test out their Thunder gear this week during workouts as they gear up for Summer League in Orlando, which starts next Sunday. As the offseason progresses, the Thunder will use the next few weeks as a baseline for the work these rookies will put in heading into the season, when they will be ready to help elevate the play of the unit as a whole by practicing at a high level.
“I’ll continue to work hard every day and work on other skills as well,” Roberson said. “I’ll take it on as a challenge to go up against (Durant) in practice. Not just him and Russell Westbrook, but others as well. I’m excited to get in there and work hard and compete every day in practice.”
The time frame for how much and when these three players will see action on the court remains to be seen for the Thunder, considering the team’s core is already in place and the nucleus has now led the team to an NBA Finals appearance and a 60-win season during the last two seasons. It will be important that this trio is incorporated into the team over time and assimilated into the organization’s culture as well as its game plan as the years go by.
“All three players are guys that we value,” Presti said. “We’re excited to have them in the program. They understand they have a lot of work ahead of them but it is our experience that with time and a specific plan, each person will work to try to maximize the gifts that they have.”