By Randy Renner
Three guys who may have huge impacts on the Thunder’s future spoke with reporters Monday as they wind up their basketball activities and related duties after the 2013-14 season. Steven Adams, who could very well be the starting center in the near future, maybe even next season, Jeremy Lamb who will again try to be OKC’s sixth man and Perry Jones II who will just try to prove he belongs.
Adams by far and away stole the show.
When asked if anything surprised him about life in general in the NBA as opposed to his freshman year at Pitt he said it was the Thunder’s charter aircraft, “Woah, that thing is amazing! They got all that food on there, a bunch of drinks (only water, Gatorade and such), I’d never seen nothing like it. Oh they got tables! Tables on the airplane, so yeah that was probably like the biggest woah for me.”
As for a welcome to the NBA type of moment on the court?
“Well it would have been at practice and we were like scrimmaging and Perk and I, we kinda got into it. We clashed. And I mean you know, I’m innocent, but I accidentally hit him and he like turned around and elbowed me in the ribs. And I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ and then he just yelled at me, ‘I’m the only silverback,’ (Alpha male) and I was like, what the hell was that?”
Adams was trying to keep from full out laughing as he recalled the moment but those of us from the media who were listening had no such restraint. It was by far the funniest moment in perhaps the entire season.
“So yeah, that was probably my reality check.”
Adams is a guy most Thunder fans (and some media) are already penciling in as the starting center next season. Don’t count Adams himself though as being in that group, at least not yet.
“I’ve still got a ton more to learn,” he admitted. “I think I made a good step this year but it’s nowhere near what I think I need to learn.”
One thing Jeremy Lamb has learned during his two seasons with the Thunder, you have to be able to play defense if you’re gonna be able to maintain your spot in the rotation.
“I’m definitely, definitely gonna work on my defense,” he said. “At first I didn’t care about defense at all, but seein a player that will like lock you up and then go score on you, that motivates me.”
And there’s no question Lamb can be that kind of player. He’s already shown that ability in flashes. Now he knows it can’t just be in flashes, it has to be constant.
And as a role model Lamb looks to Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook who’s known to “bring it” on both ends of the floor.
“People are scared to make a soft pass against him,” he said of Westbrook. “Russell competes on the defensive end so hard and then on offense too.”
Lamb hopes to be able to give similar efforts.
Perry Jones also wants to come back better, he also knows what he has to work on and a lot of it is between the ears.
“I wanna be able to guard anybody,” he said. “I’ve gotta make my athleticism work in my favor, just get into that mindset.”
That certain mindset has been talked about a lot during these exit interviews, a greater focus, more attention to what might appear to be small details.
The young guys can finally see it. Now they just have to be able to do it too.