Here's what I'm taking away from this roster: There's no BS.
Watching the Thunder in last year's Summer League was a total drag, because it featured a bunch of players who were underperforming, like Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward. Making matters worse were the bunch of journeymen that had no chance of making the roster, like Morris Almond, John Holland, and Garrett Temple.
But this year's team feels like a return to the glory days of 2010. Back then, the Thunder's Summer League squad featured names such as James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Eric Maynor. Nine of the team's members would don a Thunder uniform at some point in time, and they ended up with the league's best record. There were no playoffs back then, but this year's system promises to insert an element of drama.
As you probably recognize, eight of the players are on the roster or were drafted by the Thunder in the past three years, and the three drafted this year have yet to step on the court outside of college. There are a few notable no-shows, though. Alex Abrines, who was drafted at pick 32 out of FC Barcelona Regal, will not be on the roster this year. As expected, he will continue to hone his game in Europe. We will also not see Tibor Pleiss, who is currently in the second year of a four year contract with Caja Laboral. The Thunder have the option to buy out his contract for a set amount at any point, if they so desire. Lastly, a couple of former second round picks and 2012 participants, Ryan Reid and Latavious Williams, will not return to the team. Reid last played for Chorale Roanne Basket in France, while Williams last played for CB Sevilla in Spain.
Outside of the eight draft picks and roster players, there are a couple notable inclusions. Dwight Buycks, who was featured on the 2012 Summer League team and played on the 11-12 66ers, will make a return appearance. Of the secondary group, he's the most likely to get minutes, and did a decent job of running backup point last year. Kyle Kuric was a teammate of Lucas Noguiera on Asafe Estudiantes in Spain. The rest of them are either fresh out of college or just starting their pro careers, and we'll dig deeper into the entire roster in a later post.
As for now, I think the thing to ultimately remember is that the Summer League isn't the end all be all of a player's career. Sure, it told us that guys like Cole Aldrich and Patrick O'Bryant probably weren't going to make it, but it also told us that Marco Bellinelli was going to be a superstar. If you need more immediate examples, consider that B.J. Mullens' stats were far better than Serge Ibaka's in 2010, and that Kent Bazemore made a NBA roster after riding the Thunder's Summer League pine last year.
That' being said, I'm really prepared to be nervous about Steven Adams.
The Summer League starts this Sunday, and runs through Friday. All Games will be live on NBATV. The schedule is as follows:
Sunday, July 7th: OKC @ Indiana, 2 PM CDT
Monday, July 8th: OKC @ Orlando, 10 AM CDT
Tuesday, July 9th: Detroit @ OKC, 12 PM CDT
Wednesday, July 10th: OKC @ Philadelphia, 12 PM CDT
Thursday, July 11th: Bye
Friday, July 11th: Placement Games, Time TBD
What do you think of the Thunder's Summer League roster? Who's a steal, and who's a bust? Let us know in the comments!