If it seems like the Thunder season just ended, I feel the same way. However, like you, I’m eager for the new season to kick off. While the expectations of a playoff run are non-existent, it’ll be a joy to watch budding star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley, Lu Dort, and company develop into their NBA talent. I’m also excited to see Thunder rookies Josh Giddey and Tre Mann display what they can do.
Here’s a breakdown of some quotes and takeaways following OKC’s media day.
Coach Daigneaults interviews may be the most monotonous, second to Sam Presti, but they are informative. During media day, it’s apparent that he understands the assignment this season. He used words and phrases like “clean slate, development, and hard work,” which means the Thunder are tanking this season again. However, he voiced that the expectation of Thunder players hasn’t changed. He wants each player on the roster to maximize their abilities.
Newly proclaimed and officially solidified as the new face of the Thunder franchise, SGA said everything he was supposed to say during media day. Not only did he say he’s gotten better as a basketball player holistically, but his ankle feels “150 percent.”
“I think the biggest thing that I learned about last season is that words only go so far and you gotta lead by example.”
A reporter noticed Shai’s slightly enhanced definition, which seemed to flatter him a bit. He stated that he’s picked up more weight during this offseason than he ever has at once. SGA added that he’s gotten stronger and quicker, which was his priority over getting bigger.
Another slight testament to SGA’s selflessness, when we asked him a lighthearted question about how his growing stature in the fashion industry can impact the fashion scene and OKC culturally, he deflected, stating that there’s a lot of guys on the team with a solid fashion sense and that he “adds to it.”
There wasn’t much said that was overly groundbreaking outside of the fact that he’s the eldest player on the Thunder at 30 years old. He’s two months older than Derrick Favors. Also, just like SGA, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Derrick Favors getting traded to OKC wasn’t ideal for him, and he voiced that. Still, regardless, he’s vowed to be professional and that he never considered ‘not playing’ like other NBA players have done and are currently doing.
“I’m happy to be here, to be a part of this organization. I’m all in on it. Being around young guys, they’ll keep me young. I want to help them out as much as I can as long as I’m here.”
Favors is a better player than Muscala, but their roles are significant.
If a fight breaks out this year, run in the opposite direction from Luguentz Dort. OKC’s third-year defensive specialist turned two-way player, Lu Dort, spent time boxing, doing Jiu-Jitsu, and playing soccer during the offseason. He also added that he lost weight and feels faster and lighter on his feet than last season.
Darius Bazley potentially had the highest praise of head coach Mark Daigneault out of everyone in the Thunder organization. While most Thunder players love Daigneault, Baze took that love to the next level.
“Mark, he’s an amazing person on and off the court. He’s helped me grow so much.” Baze also compared it to doing things for his mother. He stated that he’d do whatever Mark asked him to do, just like he would for her.
Josh Giddey, the 18-year old phenom from Australia seems rather mature to be the youngest player in the NBA. So young that you’d think he’d be lonely and homesick roughly 9,000 miles away from home. However, he isn’t. He stated that his sister goes to Oral Roberts University (about an hour and a half up the turnpike in Tulsa, OK. He also has his trainer from back home in the states, as well as others. Giddey also explained that he’s been away from home since he was 15 years old, so this isn’t that bad.
Also, on Giddey’s ankle:
“The ankle is good and healthy. I was excited to play in summer league, but I got hurt two minutes in. And we decided to make sure the ankle is healed before anything else.”