The Value of Terrance Ferguson’s Reliability
Every time Terrance Ferguson’s phone lights up while he’s in Orlando, he can almost guarantee that it’s a call from his daughter.
While away from his one-year-old daughter inside the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, he’s able to stay connected with her through a day-long game of phone tag they play every day. She’ll call him. He’ll call her. She’ll answer, smile and then playfully hang up. Ferguson smiles just talking about the adorable interactions.
“That girl, she’s something special,” Ferguson said. “I try to call her at least three times a day. She blows my phone up at least 50 times and I’ll blow her phone up at least 100 times before she answers.”
“That’s pretty special that we keep that connection going even though I’m so far away.”
WATCH: Thunder Talk - The Value of Ferg
While disappointed that the season was put on pause and all of the Thunder’s eye-catching momentum heading into the postseason came to a screeching halt, Ferguson took advantage of the one thing he wouldn’t have been able to enjoy otherwise – time with his daughter. Whether it was swimming, going on walks or jumping around in a new bouncy-house in the backyard, he looked to make the most of the time they had together.
“Each and every day I was trying to do something different with her,” Ferguson said. “Those moments were really special to me.”
With the same certainty that Ferguson can predict the name that will appear on his phone, Coach Donovan can predict what he will be getting from his third-year guard whenever he checks into the game in Orlando. Ferguson’s calling card and one of his biggest areas of strength for the Thunder during his three years has been his reliability.
Starting with his rookie season, he has bought into his role that the team needed from him – a high motor, unrelenting defensive presence who plays within the team’s framework on the offensive end. He may not end up with the offensive stats that make headlines, but his value on the defensive end plays a huge role for the Thunder on a nightly basis.
“What he has to do every game and what's asked of him is very, very difficult. It's one of those jobs where you won't get as much praise as you should publicly, but that's okay. Internally, it needs to be very, very much appreciated, which it is,” said Thunder center Steven Adams.
Bubble Birthday pic.twitter.com/dQMqPlgTf7— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) July 20, 2020
Every off-season, in order to maintain that growth and development as a stalwart defender for the team, Ferguson focuses his attention on his fitness and overall physical condition. As Steven Adams pointed out, pursuing the league’s best offensive players like James Harden and Luka Doncic over ball screens for 23 minutes a game is no small task.
The NBA’s four-month hiatus gave the 21-year-old the same opportunity as a normal offseason to continue developing his endurance for those situations. This time, however, Ferguson didn’t have much access to an actual basketball court due to restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus so he needed to get a little creative with his workouts.
“My main focus was to get my body strong, not to sit around and be lazy but to get up every day to work down to get my conditioning,” he said. “I was out running hills, lifting weights, every day, I was even doing pool workouts so I was trying to everything to get my strength up and my conditioning up.”
The creativity and consistency with his workouts paid off when the Thunder returned to full-team practices in Orlando. Coach Donovan mentioned on several occasions how Ferguson, along with several members of the Thunder’s young group look, stronger and more built muscularly now than they did in March.
“I think when they have time like that, they're going to physically mature, they're gathering more information,” Donovan said. “I think every year that goes by, they would hopefully with their work ethic continue to improve and get better.”
“I’m definitely stronger. I mean I’m not going to say I can bump against Steve-o but I can bump against some of the big guys for sure,” Ferguson said with a smile.
For Donovan, there’s value in being able to depend on his young players in this new setting. There are new variables to account for with players in the Orlando campus that coaches rarely have to think about on such a scale during a regular season: injury after four months without basketball, leaving the bubble for the birth of a child or even the possibility to some players contracting the coronavirus.
“We've got to look at, you know, playing more people, because we don't know you know what the future is going to hold in terms of how everybody handles being inside the bubble – everybody's health, injuries, all those kind of things,” Donovan said. “So I think these three weeks are important to keep everybody engaged.”
With Ferguson’s work-ethic and commitment to doing what the team needs of him, the Thunder’s arsenal of players ready-to-go plays well in its favor. When games begin in Orlando on August 1, Ferguson can expect his number to be called by Coach Donovan with the same sureness that he can expect a phone call from his daughter every single day.