Tomorrow, the Oklahoma City Thunder will kickoff the preseason in Denver against the Nuggets. It will be the first of six preseason games before the regular season begins on October 19th.
Before the start of preseason, the Thunder had their annual media last week. Throughout the day players and coaches offered insight into what it was like having a full offseason. Over the course of the day, players revealed their individual and team expectations for the season ahead.
Here are some of the best quotes and themes from Oklahoma City’s 2022 media day.
In just his fourth year with the Thunder, Darius Bazley is considered a veteran on the team. Bazley has continuity with teammates Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lugeuntz Dort; all of them have come up together on the Thunder.
”It helps a lot because we’re so young, especially after a long offseason and you come back around what feels like family,” Bazley said.
Dort echoed Bazley’s sentiment and said the leaders of the team must help build the chemistry throughout the roster.
”Were so comfortable now coming into the season playing with each other, I feel we’ve already built our chemistry and we have to pass that to the rest of the team.” Dort said.
“We over me”
One thing that was evident during the Thunder’s media availability was the players have totally bought in to growing the team’s culture. This team plays for one another and wants to get better not just for themselves but for the team.
Aleksej Pokusevski exemplified this when discussing what positions he may play this season.
“I really want to be what the team needs me to be, if they need me at the five I’ll try to do that but I always want to be the same player no matter what position I’m at,” Pokusevski said.
Even rookie Jalen Williams is excited to join the culture that the Thunder is building.
“It’s definitely exciting, I’m trying to do whatever I can to fit in with the team and knowing they play an offense I’m confident in, is great for me.” Williams said.
This idea of “we over me” extends to the front office as well. For example, Oklahoma City rewarded players like Dort and Kendrich Williams with contract extensions this offseason.
“It was definitely surreal getting that call from Sam and the coaches and hearing how everyone values what I bring to the table, I was extremely happy,” Kendrich Williams said.
For Dort he was on a two-way contract with the Thunder just a few years ago and has capitalized on the opportunity to say the least.
“It was a long journey for sure, its really all the hard work and this organization trusting me. The path that I’ve had is crazy and I’m excited to be here for the next five years,” Dort said.
Offseason growth and looking ahead
During his media availability head coach Mark Daigneault touched on how important preseason is for his young team.
“Its good to get out there versus an opponent because it’s a good checkpoint to see where you’re at and set a blueprint for what to do next,” Daigneault said.
For rookie standout Josh Giddey, this offseason was all about getting stronger and improving physically.
”A big part of my offseason was being in the weight room. When your rookie in the league some of the older guys they point you out and try to attack you,” Giddey said. “That’s one thing about being stronger especially for me trying to guard one through four, these fours are big body so I have to be able to sit down and move with these guys.”
As we get closer to the regular season were unsure if Gilgeous-Alexander will be ready to start due to his Grade 2 MCL sprain. However, the Thunder's star has faith the rest of the team can adapt if he's not available.
”Guys will be able to figure things out on the court for themselves, I’d prefer to be on the court but it’ll be a cool experience to go through and they’ll be equip if it happens again,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.