Hervey Developing Into All-Around Player

By Nick Gallo | Digital Content Reporter | mailbag@okcthunder.com

LAS VEGAS -- At Summer League, skills are put to the test. Shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding and one-on-one defending are always being watched, but on Tuesday the Thunder’s squad had to level up as a group.

Playing against the Croatian team, a group full of men who have trained and played together for a long period of time, the Thunder had to lean on about a week’s worth of experience together to get the job done in the fourth quarter, clinching an 84-76 victory. After losing the third quarter 24-11, with Croatia ping-ponging passes to one another on backdoor cuts and post-up kickouts, the Thunder’s defense buckled down.

“Those guys (Croatia) have played together, European-style basketball, really testing our defensive discipline,” Summer League Head Coach Dave Bliss. “They did a great job of cutting, finding backdoor cuts and reacting to coverages.”

“Our guys did a good job of communicating. We kind of locked them in in the fourth quarter when they only had 7 points,” Bliss added. “Really good experience for our young guys.”

Hamidou Diallo finished smoothly and craftily in transition, two-way guard Lu Dort dunked and then hit a three, then second-year forward Kevin Hervey, buried a crucial three-pointer to give the Thunder a 78-73 lead with just 4:01 to go. Rookie Darius Bazley came up with a strong defensive rebound and then a massive block at the rim with 38.6 seconds left to preserve the win.

Watch: Day 4 at Summer League

For the second straight day, however, it was Hervey who made an all-around imprint on the game. Despite standing at just 6-foot-8, Hervey has been the Thunder’s center most of the time at Summer League, throwing his body into plays, racking up rebounds, putting the ball on the floor, taking jump shots and finishing around the rim. The most noticeable area where he’s excelled has been on the glass, where he’s averaged 11.3 rebounds per game.

“I had a situation this past year in the G (League),” Hervey began, explaining his prowess on the boards. “I didn’t go get the ball. It wasn’t a rebound, it was a loose ball and somebody got it. Coming into the timeout, (Oklahoma City Blue Head Coach) Mark (Daigneault) poured into me. He kinda ripped me up.”

“After that moment, every time I see the ball I just want to go get it,” Hervey continued. “I might not always get it, but I’m going to try my best to, whether it’s a rebound, loose ball, anything.”

Kevin Hervey on His Approach, Summer Progress

This past season with the Blue, Hervey averaged 11.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, while also racking up 1.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals per contest. He filled up the stat sheet. He didn’t have a prolific shooting year, but he was still returning to form from an ACL tear during his senior season at Texas-Arlington. Both in the G League and here at Summer League, Hervey has shown that shooting isn’t going to be the only thing that makes or breaks his game.

“(Hervey) is more of an all-around player than people give him credit for. That’s the thing that impresses me. Sometimes those guys who can shoot the ball at the four and five position, all you talk about is shooting the ball. He can actually do a lot of things,” Bliss noted.  

Defensively, the Thunder has used him in switches to guard smaller guards why try to attack off the dribble. They’ve used him in “push” and “weak” coverages, where Hervey’s length, size and physicality can force guards to get the ball out of their hands and on to a different playmaker. On Monday against Philadelphia, Hervey racked up 17 rebounds to go with 17 points, then put together a 13-point, 5-rebound, 2-assist, 1-block performance on Tuesday against the rough and tumble Croatians.

As with most players at Summer League, Hervey’s dream is to play in the NBA, to get his shot with the Thunder. There’s a ton to be determined as to whether or not that will be possible for him this season, but he’s preparing for that possibility and aiming to become the best, most well-rounded player he can be. The fewer the weaknesses, the fewer the reasons to come off the floor.

“I’ve put a lot of work in this summer, as well as my teammates,” said Hervey. “OKC is a great organization. They put a lot into their player development program so I’ve just tried to take advantage of that the best I can. I wake up every day just try to work hard and whatever happens, happens.”

Highlights: Summer League vs. Croatia

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