Kevin Hervey Transporting His Skills to the Pros
A decade into the Thunder experience in Oklahoma City, there’s a unique wrinkle involved when new players come to the organization. Many of the rookies, as young as they are, were just middle schoolers and high schoolers during this incredible stretch of success and playoff berths for the Thunder. The result? Rookies like Kevin Hervey, who grew up rooting for the Thunder as a teenager in Arlington, Tex.
The Thunder selected the long, lanky and skilled big man - who played close to home at University of Texas-Arlington for his collegiate years - with the 57th selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. The kid who once cheered on Russell Westbrook will get to play alongside him. Well, eventually. For now, Hervey is in Las Vegas with the Thunder’s Summer League squad, and has been solid so far as he learns the NBA ropes.
In four games he’s averaged 8.8 points on 42 percent shooting, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 14.5 minutes per contest. He’s a big man who can shoot the three, put the ball on the floor and pass to the perimeter. While he hasn't shot it as well as he's wanted to so far, he's in the right spots and looking forward to sharpening his game.
“Being with Oklahoma City, they have great player development,” Hervey said. “I think my game is where the NBA is transitioning into. I’ll keep working on my game and keep trying to get better each and every day and I think the sky is the limit.”
“(Hervey) is obviously a very skilled player for his size,” Oklahoma City Blue and Thunder Summer League Head Coach Mark Daigneualt said. “The thing that has stood out to me that I didn’t necessarily know about him is that he’s really intelligent. He’s picked up on concepts very quickly. He asks really, really good questions.”
The Thunder was impressed by Hervey’s four-year career at UT-A, even if it’s not a big-name school that made Final Four berths. After battling a pair of knee injuries, one in high school and one during his sophomore year in Arlington, Hervey ended up becoming a featured star for his squad by his senior year. In 32.2 minutes per game Hervey racked up 20.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists. At his size, Hervey’s ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter at a 34 percent clip as he did in 2017-18 is encouraging.
“That's something we look for and value,” Thunder Vice President of Identification & Intelligence Will Dawkins said of Hervey’s 6-foot-9 stature and 7-foot-3 wingspan. “Then he's a person that's been able to stretch the floor on offense, make some plays, cover a couple different positions.”
“He's a guy on the offensive end that has an ability that's very valuable in the league now where he can dribble, handle, make decisions and also shoot the ball,” Dawkins continued. “Offensively, he's someone that has some upside.”
Most impressive to the Thunder was how Hervey played against upper echelon competition. He’ll be seeing a lot of that in the NBA, not to mention practices with the Thunder. Against Alabama, Hervey notched 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Against Creighton, another 24 points to go with 11 rebounds. If not for his injuries, Hervey may have been playing for one of those power programs, and the Thunder believes that with some natural growth and improvement, he can compete with the big boys at the NBA level too.
In Vegas, Hervey’s three-point shooting off the catch and as a trail-man in transition has jumped out the most. The coaches and he himself have noted that he must stay confident on that side of the floor and be aggressive, while on defense he’s shown growth as a communicator of defensive coverages. That will be an ongoing work in progress, as defense always is in the NBA, but Hervey is up for the challenge.
“It’s a huge transition from playing mid-major basketball to being out here with guys who play in the NBA,” Hervey said. “I took it all in stride and the coaches have worked with me a lot. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity and am enjoying every moment of it.”
Watch: Kevin Hervey in Action at Summer League