2012-13 Exit Interviews - Day Two
Jeremy Lamb - 12:30 p.m.
“It was a process for me,” Lamb said. “It was a huge learning year for me, being able to learn from so many great players. KD, Russ, Perk and Serge, all those guys really helped me through the year to learn good habits.”
For a rookie coming into the league, then being traded to a new team just before the start of the season, it could have been a disoriented year. By staying solid and grounded, Lamb will continue to be a professional in everything that he does and build himself a routine that can make him a better player.
As a former lottery pick, Lamb’s skill level is high and he understands he can be an important piece of the Thunder puzzle. As players like Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka said on Thursday, when players’ individual skill levels improve, so does the team’s overall level of play. Lamb disclosed a bit about what his coaches have said to him about his plan to improve this summer in Oklahoma City and in Summer League.
“They just really put emphasis on continuing to work hard, making sure you get your work in and have a good routine,” Lamb said. “Do all that you can to make yourself better. It’s only going to help me as well as the team in the long run.”
Lamb’s prowess as a shooter was on display this season in stretches with the Thunder and with the Tulsa 66ers, where he really was able to shine. After a great performance in the D-League Showcase, it was clear that Lamb has a lot of skills and qualities that can make him an effective player in the NBA. The key for him, however, is continuing to refine different aspects of his game in order to become well-rounded and dynamic on both ends of the floor.
“I want to work on creating, not just for myself but for teammates,” Lamb said. “I want to work on the defensive end. I want to make it tough on the offensive player.”
Perry Jones - 11:50 a.m.
Throughout the season Jones saw spot minutes in Thunder games while continuing to hone his craft as a versatile defender, rebounder and scorer with the Tulsa 66ers, which he said was a great learning tool. This was an educational year for Jones, who not only learned a lot about the NBA game but also about himself as a player.
“I learned that my quickness can help me a lot in this league,” Jones said. “I just have to be able to add a little strength with it. … I can play multiple positions. I felt like I was able to keep up with whoever I guarded.”
The hard work Jones put in with the coaching staff, sometimes even having to run the gauntlet and play one-on-one against every member of the team at the end of practice was certainly a healthy development experience. This summer, Jones has decided to stay in Oklahoma City for a large portion of the time in addition to planning to take part in Summer League.
“I think I’ve developed a lot,” Jones continued. “There was a lot that I didn’t know that I’ve learned over the past couple months. I know they’re going to push me even harder this summer…. I’ll still be here working out with the coaching staff and trying to get the best help possible.”
Daniel Orton - 11:30 a.m.
This season, just as in years past, Thunder fans and those in the community have been intensely supportive of the team and it has been a treat for Orton to feel a part of that. In many trips to schools, Orton also helped as the Thunder gave back to the community where he was raised.
“People always talked about Oklahoma getting some type of professional team, and you knew they would support them,” Orton said. “The community and state have literally adopted this team and come to love the players. That’s truly special. The things the organization does to reach out to the community are special too.”
Individually, Orton had the opportunity to play a lot of minutes for the Tulsa 66ers while playing a handful of games for the Thunder. With solid catching ability, explosive finishing power at the rim and his own brand of physicality, Orton has shown flashes of his ability to be an NBA role player. He’ll continue to work on his game this summer with the staff and in Summer League in Orlando, which he has already started doing this year.
“I have a pretty good idea of stuff I want to work on,” Orton said. “I see me working on a lot of post stuff this year, trying to get better. … My skill set has grown tremendously. My work ethic has probably also grown a lot here. With the guys they already have here you have no choice to work hard every day.”
DeAndre Liggins - 11:20 a.m.
Embracing a role is an essential part of the process of becoming an NBA player. DeAndre Liggins understands that aspect of his NBA journey as he spent quite a bit of his year as a spot role player, even playing a career-high 40 minutes in a big road win against the Portland Trail Blazers. While his minutes weren’t always consistent, he was always ready. His professionalism, hustle and defensive-minded presence were all palpable every time he stepped on the floor, which is something he is proud of and the Thunder values.
“I think what I displayed- the grit, toughness, that’s what this organization is about,” Liggins said.
When he wasn’t in the Thunder’s rotation, Liggins was improving his game as a member of the Tulsa 66ers, where in his first game he recorded a triple-double. The long, wing defender was “amazed” by his experience with the 66ers.
“I love what Sam did, sending me to the D-League,” Liggins said.
Getting the chance to work on his game in practice with the Thunder, then put it on the game floor with the 66ers was a perfect balance for Liggins. In addition, his development was aided by mentors like Thabo Sefolosha. While Liggins isn’t the most out-spoken person in the locker room, he did seek help from veterans as he continues to create a vision for what he hopes to achieve as an NBA player. Having that self-awareness is critical, and it helps define expectations and standards for a player’s performance. Fortunately for Liggins, he has examples to look to and the drive to be great at what he does.
“(Thabo) helped me a lot defensively, with defensive schemes,” Liggins said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes for me to play in the NBA for a long time.”
Reggie Jackson - 10:45 a.m.
Reggie Jackson started the season by playing with the Tulsa 66ers in the D-League, eventually was elevated to the backup point guard role and after the unfortunate knee injury to Russell Westbrook, was inserted into the starting lineup.
That’s quite a process to undertake for a second year player essentially getting his first extended experience, but Jackson accepted it with true professionalism, toughness and class. Leaning on the help and encouragement of veteran teammates and the coaching staff, the young guard felt supported from all angles.
“They kept me level headed and made sure I didn’t get too low or too high on things,” Jackson said. “Just preaching to me to have faith and trust that my number will get called. They genuinely care about you and your success. I think that’s what makes us a special team. Everybody is genuinely happy for the next guy.”
Heading into next season Jackson said he doesn’t feel entitled but rather will stay hungry and humble as he continues putting in work. Jackson said he can’t shake his love for the game; he was up dribbling the ball in his house until 3:00 a.m. on Thursday night. Whether or not he actually plays on the Thunder’s Summer League team remains to be seen, but Jackson plans on traveling to Orlando to support his teammates and continue to work on his game. After this Playoff run where he showed his ability, Jackson recognized a few key areas that he wants to be successful in next season.
“I have to stay aggressive, whether myself or to make plays,” Jackson said. “If I play basketball aggressively, good things tend to happen. I’ll stay hungry and humble and just work on always being in attack mode.”
Through it all, Jackson knows he has the guidance of his teammates, in addition to the unconditional love and support from the fans in Oklahoma City, who have embraced the team since it arrived in town.
“Team is community,” Jackson said. “Team is that 18,203 every night.”
Hasheem Thabeet - 10:15 a.m.
Sometimes the right situation is all that it takes for a player to feel comfortable on and off the court. Hasheem Thabeet didn’t see a ton of playing time in previous NBA stops, but thanks to the strength and confidence he was given by the Thunder organization, coaching staff and his teammates, Thabeet pushed himself to new heights.
As the team’s backup center, Thabeet posted the highest averages in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and minutes since his rookie season. With physicality and agility for his size, the tallest man in the NBA was able to be successful on the floor and in the locker room. He credited the supportive atmosphere at the Thunder for helping him progress.
“You walk through the door...everybody wants to help you to get better,” Thabeet said.
Not only did Thabeet help the Thunder on the floor in 66 games, even earning four starts while shooting a career-best 60.4 percent from the field, he also made an impact in the Oklahoma City community. As a very active presence in the Thunder’s community relations events, particularly the Rolling Thunder Book Bus, presented by American Fidelity Assurance Company, Thabeet helped brighten the days of local youths. The welcoming environment of Oklahoma City has been a good fit for both Thabeet and the Thunder and for his role, the 7’3” Tanzanian was a good fit too.
“To be where I am right now, I’m just happy,” Thabeet said. “To come to work and see how everybody approaches things, it’s been great to me.”