The air is more than warm. It’s downright toasty. In the middle of the desert, in the crackling heat of July, the NBA world descends upon the oasis of Las Vegas. Even in the balmy conditions, tucked inside a pair of gymnasiums swarmed by NBA fans from across the world, the players from all 30 teams have the verve and pop that only youth and exuberance can bring.
The annual NBA Summer League is an opportunity for the Thunder’s youngest stars to match up against their colleagues from across the NBA. Some are getting their start – testing out their skills against the size, length, speed and quickness of professionals. Others are taking stock of where they’ve been, and where they’re bound to go. After weeks of offseason training, the gains made can reveal themselves through open competition.
For years the Thunder competed at the Orlando Summer League, now no longer an option with all 30 teams – and this year including teams from China and Croatia – assembling in Nevada’s gaudy jewel of a city for the NBA’s official offseason tournament. Last year the Thunder went 2-1 in the initial set of games, placing 6th in the standings. It lost in the first round of the Summer League Playoffs to Memphis but won its consolation game over the Orlando Magic a day later.
This summer, the Thunder will aim for more team success but will remain focused on player development and intentional improvement. Each game will be an opportunity for Thunder players to get more comfortable within the organization’s offensive and defensive schemes and also to continue focusing on their own impact on the floor.
Featured players on the Thunder’s Summer League roster include 2019 NBA Slam Dunk Champion, second-year guard Hamidou Diallo along with Deonte Burton, Donte Grantham and Jawun Evans all three of whom served as two-way players for the Thunder last season. Also on the roster are a pair of players who spent last season with the Oklahoma City Blue – Devon Hall and Kevin Hervey.
“We're not going to try to get too far ahead of ourselves and try to map out their career arc or anything like that,” Thunder General Manager and Vice President Sam Presti said. “But I would say that Summer League is usually the time that we use to establish a baseline of where we see the player.”
“From there we will sit down as an organization and try to map out some specific goals in different areas using Summer League as the baseline for that,” Presti continued. “Then we use the rest of the summer to track those and get ourselves to training camp and then assess and see if we need to make some new ones.”
The Thunder’s Summer League Head Coach will be Dave Bliss (University of Georgia) and will begin action against the Utah Jazz at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday, July 6. The team will play the Philadelphia 76ers on July 8, Croatia on July 9 and the Portland Trail Blazers on July 11.
To see the full Thunder Summer League roster, click here.