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Sam Presti Talks Thunder Roster

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Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti was interviewed by WWLS The Sports Animal on Monday, and spoke about many aspects of the Thunder's roster.  Here are the highlights:

On rookie bigs Steven Adams and Andre Roberson:

"Both those guys we feel good about. We feel good that they fit what we're looking for on the floor, we also feel like they fit the kind of makeup that we continually want to add to our team. They're tough-minded individuals, I think they know who they are as players, and both of them have done well and helped contribute when called upon. And I'd be remiss if I didn't speak directly to the fact that someone has to show them that trust and confidence and stick with them and that's our coaching staff. Our coaching staff has done an excellent job of recognizing the importance of those players' development, not only for the future but also for this season. To have Andre in a position where he can step into a starting situation in a pinch and be prepared to contribute; (to see) Steven come along faster than anyone would have expected, that's a result of opportunity. Each time that (Steven's) on the floor, even though he may not be producing statistics or making highlight reels, he's improving. Even on nights where he's struggling, he's improving, he's getting better each time."

On Kevin Durant balancing scoring vs. passing with Westbrook sidelined:

"It's a balance. I think it speaks to Kevin's intellect and overall awareness and understanding of the game itself. The game becomes easier for him when he's not carrying everything. And fortunately for us, we're in a position where he doesn't have to do that. We're at our best when the ball moves, everybody gets involved, I think it helps us on both ends of the floor, and I think Kevin gets better shots and more efficient shots when that's happening. With that being said, when you have a competitor and you have somebody that is a leader and has the abilities that he has, there's going to be that temptation. And I respect that, as a competitor. But now what we're seeing, is just a certain level of overall awareness from the team standpoint and the student of the game standpoint, which is a rare combination. That's he's able to understand that the game can be easier for everybody, even though he wants to take the bull by the horns because he can, but it's a balance and fortunately we have a player that can recognize that and still be in a position to take games over when necessary."

On finding consistency with Westbrook's absence:

"Earlier this season, the bench was our greatest strength, and that's not just because of Reggie (Jackson) and Jeremy (Lamb), that's because all the guys that contributed to that. Collison, Fisher, Adams, Perry Jones; that mix of players has come together and really optimized themselves. Now with the injury, there have to be some adjustments, and that affects everybody. That doesn't just affect Reggie or Jeremy, that affects starters, it affects the bench and on down the line. So we have to find ourselves there. But to think there would be a seamless transition would be a little fairy-tale like. We've got to work through that."

On Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson:

"But both of those guys have put in an enormous amount of work and they're seeing the benefits of that. With that said, there's gonna be peaks and valleys. There's gonna be tough nights, there's gonna be nights where the ball's not going through the basket, but what I like is they've tried to focus on the other aspects of the game where they can contribute. Reggie's one of the more elite rebounding point guards per the available balls and Jeremy's done a nice job developing as a passer. And sometimes he doesn't get the assist but he might set up the pass that leads to the assist because he just plays (with) a very natural flow. But those guys are just gonna keep getting better and I'm confident they will for two reasons. One, they care. They put in the time. And of course they face that they're getting these opportunities. Although we don't want to be in the situation we're in with Russell not on the floor, I think there's opportunities for other players to grow, and hopefully we'll have a better base than we had previously."

The Thunder (28-9) plays the Grizzlies on Tuesday night in Memphis.

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