Thunder’s Summer League Kicks Off Saturday
By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | email@example.com
What You Need to Know
- When: July 1-6
- Where: Orlando, Fla.
- How to Watch: NBATV
Improvement in the NBA isn’t some miraculous occurrence. It comes through daily diligence, and through leaps made against competition. That’s part of the purpose of Summer League, the annual opportunity for Thunder coaches to get a baseline reading on where some of their players are, and for the youngest classes of players to get the chance to test out their skills against professionals.
This Saturday, the Thunder will be hitting the court at Summer League. That’s another year of utilizing the week to learn, get better, make mistakes and indulge in the competition to win. In Orlando, the Thunder youngsters will be primed and ready to make steps forward.
The team will be headlined by second-year forward Domas Sabonis, who started 66 of his 81 games played during the 2016-17 season. The skilled stretch forward played 20.1 minutes per contest, utilizing the opening minutes of first and third quarters to help get scorers like Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo into a rhythm with his screening and ball movement. He also scored 5.9 points per game on 32.1 percent shooting from three-point range.
Due to his obligation to the Lithuanian national basketball team, Sabonis didn’t get a chance to play in Orlando last year, but he’s looking forward to competing this offseason as a part of his training regimen.
“There's a specific schedule for me this summer, just to improve on my game - the Summer League, playing on the national team, just everything to prepare me for next season,” Sabonis explained.
Also on the roster will be Semaj Christon, the second-year backup point guard who came out of the woodwork to find a spot in the rotation. He played in 64 games last season and racked up 15.2 minutes per game while dishing out 2.0 assists compared to just 0.7 turnovers per contest.
Part of Christon’s ability to make the roster started at Summer League in 2016. Head Coach Billy Donovan noted a marked change in Christon’s game and believed he had a shot to make the team. In September and October, Christon proved him right. Now Christon has to keep building.
“I always felt I could play, but it was a big learning experience, too. Just the game, the physicality, everything about the game was a learning experience,” Christon said.
Also on the roster will be three players who have seen significant time with the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, the OKC Blue. Josh Huestis, Dakari Johnson and Daniel Hamilton all have professional experience under Blue head coach Mark Daigneault, and will continue to work on their games in hopes of making the 2017-18 17-man roster, which will include two “swing” contracts, which allow teams to keep G-League players on their Thunder roster as well.
Thunder 2017 first round draft selection Terrance Ferguson is also on the Summer League roster, but it is unclear if he will compete at this time. Of note locally, Rashawn Thomas, an Oklahoma City native, and Markel Brown formerly of Oklahoma State, are also on the Thunder’s roster.
- Saturday July 1: vs. Detroit Pistons at 4:00 p.m. CT
- Monday July 3: vs. New York Knicks at 12:00 p.m. CT
- Tuesday July 4: vs. Charlotte Hornets at 12:00 p.m. CT
- Wednesday July 5: vs. Dallas Mavericks at 12:00 p.m. CT
- Thursday July 6: Championship Day, game time TBD