The Thunder held their annual media day yesterday. As part of the festivities, each Thunder player was given a short interview by Lesley McCaslin and Michael Cage of Thunder TV. Sam Presti and Billy Donovan were given interviews as well. You can watch the whole thing on the Thunder's website.
Here are the ten most interesting things I learned from the two hours of interviews. Some are silly, some are serious.
1. Serge Ibaka will not take as many threes in 2016-17
Ibaka has had the three as a part of his arsenal for roughly three years. For the first two years, Ibaka would only take a three about once a game, if that. But last season, Ibaka took roughly three attempts from three per game. During yesterday's media interviews, Ibaka says that his three will definitely be downplayed.
Michael Cage: "Your mid-range shot is equally as consistent as your shot from downtown. Is that something that's a big part of your game as well?"
Serge Ibaka: "Yeah, mid-shot is something I want to keep, you know? This year, you're going to see it a lot. Maybe a little less three point range."
2. Enes Kanter lived out of a hotel for 55 Days last season
Michael Cage: "How difficult is it to be traded mid-season to another team and become a starter and do what you did?"
Enes Kanter: "Oh, it's too hard. First of all, staying at that hotel for like 55 days. I was just at the hotel for 55 days. I just stayed there."
3. Sam Presti sees this as the deepest team the Thunder have ever had
Lesley McCaslin: "What does that mean to you, seeing how far these guys have come and knowing that they're going to get their shot again?"
Sam Presti: "I think one of the things for us, given the circumstances of last season. You know, we were dealing with injuries. Like a lot of other teams were. But we tried to be opportunistic during that period of time. And we were able to bring on Dion and Novak and Kanter and Augustin and Singler. We obviously were doing that with the expectation that we'd be seeing the full team playing that season. With that not being the case, as we looked at this season, we see a few things.
One, I think we're a deeper team than we've been through our history in Oklahoma City. The average age of our rotation is 26, which is right in line with our core players. Which is where we'd like it to be.
And I think the other thing about it is that there's a significant level of upside to the team, given the fact that the team has not played together. And we're excited about the different combinations that Billy and his staff can find."
To put this into context, the Thunder have been to the NBA Finals once and the Western Conference Finals twice. For Presti to call this the deepest team ever is a very strong statement. It's not Presti saying "if we don't win a title, this year was really a bust". I think Presti is moreso trying to indicate that the expectations for this year's team are extremely high.
This statement also indicates that Presti probably won't be looking for any specific role players in the trade market this season. The Thunder have a man for every job.
4. Andre Roberson was the catalyst behind Morrow's "quick release" jumper, developed last season
Anthony Morrow: "I had to change my shot because of [Roberson]. Yeah. ... You gotta worry about him chasing you around, he's so athletic. He blocks my shot more than anybody in practice. So I had to change my release. He's 6'7. He blocked my shot last week in pickup."
If Roberson is the real reason behind Morrow's quick shot, then he's been worth every penny.
5. Steve Novak, an 8 team veteran, believes the Thunder serve the best food
Michael Cage: "What are your good eating habits?"
Steve Novak: "There's no team that I've been on that's better than Oklahoma City in terms of, we literally can come in and have breakfast. We can have lunch. And the food that's provided for us at our practice facility is as good as it gets. It's organic. They literally offered to take us to the farm where a lot of the food that we eat is raised. It's just incredible. So, we have really really good options here. As you know, when you're 17 or 18 you can eat what you want. And all of a sudden, you have to start watching what you eat."
Wait, the Thunder can literally go out to the farm where their food is raised? This definitely calls for a team field trip.
6. Steven Adams is going to wear a "mule-ay" hair style on the court next year
Lesley McCaslin: "How are you going to keep your hair out of your face when playing?"
Steven Adams: "Tie it up. My head's weirdly shaped, so I can't actually wear a headband."
McCaslin: "Like Joakim Noah, just tie it up?"
Adams: "Probably not that. Just sort of a mule-ay. Still. But just have the top part."
McCaslin: "A mule-ay. A mullet."
Adams: "A fancy mullet!"
McCaslin: "Is that what they call it in New Zealand?"
Adams: "I just wanted to sound fancy, mullet sounds horrendous!"
7. Presti hired Donovan for his innovative thinking, and Donovan has been extremely impressive thus far
Lesley McCaslin: "What have you seen from Billy Donovan and his staff already, and how has he connected to this team?"
Sam Presti: "As we talked about when we announced Billy, there were a few things that attracted us to him. He's rung the bell on each one of them.
I think number one, innovative thinker with regards to the game. Technically and tactically, someone who understands the development process for players. Not just young players, but older players alike.
And I think [Donovan is] in alignment with the organizational values and the importance of the Thunder within the community. That's something that resonated with him immediately when we began conversations about the possibility of him coming aboard.
And then, the other piece is the trademarks of a high achieving person. He's got great intellectual curiosity. He's got a learning orientation and a great mindset. He's got great emotional awareness and understanding of the interplay between people. And the importance of connecting a group both physically, emotionally, and mentally. And he's been exceptional in that regard.
There's one thing that's really stuck out to me this summer in watching him. He has a true passion for helping the players find the best in themselves. And really helping them achieve things that they couldn't achieve on their own. Not just as a team, but also as an individual. And he's spent a lot of time learning about them, their history, the things that motivate them, how they deal with different circumstances. And I think he tries to incorporate that into his everyday approach to building a great team.
Scott Brooks was notorious for running simplistic offensive plays, and criticized for not trying very many combinations of players. So it makes sense that Presti would look for someone who would bring something different to the table strategically while being the same type of professional leader that Scott Brooks was. We'll see how Donovan's experimental style works out with OKC's deep group this season.
8. Enes Kanter is working on his defense, and lost weight that he may have gained
Lesley McCaslin: "Is there something in particular skillwise that you worked on this Summer that you're trying to add to your game?"
Enes Kanter: "I was working a on my defense a lot this Summer. I think that basketball, of course, plays in both ways. ... I think that I really worked a lot this Summer. Just trying to get in better shape, and trying to lose weight, too. So I lost like around 25, 26 pounds. Because whenever I go back to Turkey, I gained a lot of weight. So I try to lose it during the whole Summer. Like I said, Turkish foods, I love.
Because we have guys who can score the ball, I think the most important thing right now is to just focus on defense this year. And just play, you know, team basketball. And try to do our best out there."
So Enes Kanter lost a lot of weight, but the way he made it sound, he may have gained some of that weight after the end of last season. I guess that's....alright? At least Kanter is working on defense, where he unquestionably needs work.
9. Heustis sees his year with the Blue as a "blessing"
Josh Huestis was drafted by the Thunder with the 29th pick of the 2014 Draft. Normally, all first round draft picks are guaranteed a four year contract right off the bat. But Huestis agreed to wait a year, and spend that time with the Thunder's D-League team, the Oklahoma City Blue.
Josh Huestis: "I learned a lot. I honestly see it as an amazing blessing, being able to play with the Blue. Coming out of college I don't think I was fully ready to play at this professional level. And I think having that year to play great competition, be a part of the organization, and learn from veterans. I think it's really prepared me to step out on the court."
10. KD is sad about Texas Longhorn football
OKC Media: "Any words of encouragement for Charlie Strong and the rest of the longhorns out there?"
Kevin Durant: "That's a low blow, man."
Do you have any big takeaways from media day? If so, drop a comment and let us know!